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Dick Frizzell coming to Kapiti

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

With his talk titled "Toe-ing the Line" as Dick describes "this line you're not meant to cross if you want to be taken seriously but which seems to move away every time my toe gets anywhere near it", this will be a fascinating evening.

From the prints and paintings inspired by comics, to the advertising trademarks, Maori iconography and rural road signs Dick Frizzell has enlivened the local art world. The landscapes, the tiki, the still life’s, the phantoms, the abstractions, commissions, sculptures, a retrospective at the Wellington City Gallery, the prints, the posters, the tea towels, tee shirts, collar buttons and now wine and wine boxes his attitude has always been "why not. His blurring of the lines between comic book illustrations or packaging and fine art have been called both inspired and irreverent.

It was while working in the environment of commercial advertising that Frizzell began to pluck familiar objects from their usual context and turn them into arresting images. Several products that were ‘household’ names to New Zealanders in the late 1970’s became transformed into national icons. From sources as varied as canned fish wrappers, corner shop signage and junk mail, he turned images into paintings, giving titles that introduced unexpected associations.

Born in Auckland, Dick Frizzell studied at the Canterbury School of Fine Arts between 1960 and 1963. With a wife and family to support he went to teachers' college and by way of a stint working as an animator, found his way into the advertising industry, working for seven years for Bob Harvey, later mayor of Auckland's Waitakere City. He also worked as a for-hire commercial artist and (like other well-known artists including Colin McCahon and Rita Angus) as an illustrator for the New Zealand School Journal.

It wasn't until 1976 that his career as a painter could be said to take flight with an exhibition of work, which he embarked upon after a neighbourhood kid gave him a tin of fish. Its colourful label set him off on the unruly, idiosyncratic ride that he's still on. A few years after that exhibition, artist and teacher Don Binney offered him a teaching gig at Auckland's Elam art school, a job that would pay the mortgage and get him out of the house for the next 16 years.

He has an art practice that spans over 50 years and his works are held in all major public, corporate and private collections in New Zealand. He has also completed a number of major commissions including works for Sky City Casino (Auckland) and the painting of an Ansett New Zealand aeroplane for Starship Children's Hospital. In 1997 a retrospective exhibition of his work, Dick Frizzell: Portrait of a Serious Artiste, was toured to major national institutions. In 2009 his book, Dick Frizzell: The Painter, was published.

His art has been characterised by wildly divergent tangents over the last three decades: post-modern parodies and cartoonish images one moment; quiet, warm, almost traditional landscapes the next. He has been almost infamous too. The knockers called him a "spiritual assassin" because he dared to mess about with the tiki in the mid-1990s.

Without doubt one of the most influential artists working in New Zealand today Dick will be hosting a dinner at the Coastlands Kapiti Hockey turf on Saturday 2 November 2013 as part of the 2013 Kapiti Arts Trail.

Tickets for the 3 course dinner, including a glass of Dick Frizzell wine are only $99 and are available at the Paraparaumu i-site.

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