Geoff Williams’ artworks are quintessentially kiwi. His paintings feature Kiwiana, toy cars and classic ice cream vans. Then there’s his large New Zealand landscapes, everyday still life scenes and nudes.
Based in the South Island of New Zealand, Geoff is a second generation artist. His father was an innovative sign writer, back in the days before computers and graphic design programs. Geoff learned the craft of painting and drawing from a young age, in a hands-on environment and regularly met influential artists like Philip Markham and Steve Harris.
“I am immensely proud of my father’s work and have been influenced by him in my own work,” says Geoff.
In his teens, Geoff discovered he was colour blind. He uses a limited colour palette and has been using the same colours for more than 20 years. It’s given his work a distinctive look, without taking away from the breath-taking realism. Geoff’s cross-hatch brush stroke technique is also a hallmark of his work. While from a distance, his art has a very real look, the viewer is invited to step closer and discover the unmistakeable work of an artist. The cross-hatching looks like ‘artistic pixilation’ – you need to see his work in the flesh to truly appreciate this.
There’s a strong storytelling element in Geoff’s work. He paints what he knows, often depicting every day scenes and subjects.
He writes; “I think one of the important functions of an artist is to exact an element of surprise from the everyday. My subjects are the local dairy, a petrol station or a fish and chop shop. The cars in my paintings are mine or a friends’, and my props are often purchased from the local second hand dealer or supermarket.”
However, the storytelling element stops short of telling the whole story, the viewer must bring their own experiences and emotions to the paintings too. This is perhaps best seen in some of Geoff’s drawings and people studies. They appear familiar, but we’re left to make our own ideas about these characters.
Geoff’s careful attention to detail also has a heart-warming honesty to it. He paints real scenes “as it should be in an ideal world.” Halo features a quiet Lake Wakatipu scene, the landscape undisturbed by sentient life… but this wasn’t how Geoff originally saw it. Two ducks were swimming in the lake, so Geoff has painted these separately and offered this small painting as an additional gift the purchaser.
Artbay Gallery founder and director Pauline Bianchi says Geoff is “a quintessential painter of Kiwi iconography.”
“His work appeals to young and old alike. His iconic scenes offer nostalgia for the older viewer and are playful for the younger viewer.
“Many of his landscapes are painted as we remember them, Remarkables is a classic Queenstown scene with the Kawarau Bridge in the background. The beautiful boat carefully hides modern developments in the background – this scene could be from any time.”
Soulful, elegant and honest, Geoff Williams’ exhibition in Artbay’s Exclusive Exhibitions space is a must see. Anyone who identifies with Aotearoa, its landscapes, South Island culture or traditions will love this eclectic art exhibition.
On now until 15th December 2017. Upstairs at 11 Marine Parade, Queenstown.