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Record Image
Trusttum, Philip (New Zealand, b.1940)
acrylic on canvas
2460 x 2080mm
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 2001 by the artist.
Philip Trusttum turned 60 in 2000, but this painting from the same year demonstrates his ongoing refusal to relax into the armchair of art history. An apparently boundless energy and chromatic richness are hallmarks of this painter’s four-decade career, and Changes brims with both.
A believer in Philip Guston’s famous statement that ‘painting is impure’, Trusttum spent much of the later 1980s and 1990s combining his deep love and knowledge of early modern painters such as Paul Klee and Joan Miro with his boots-and-all experience of farm life in rural Waimate. His paintings from that period happily incorporate muddy shoeprints and traces of dung. In Changes Trusttum circles back to some of his most memorable inventions of the mid-1980s – stocky rural workers who mowed, hoed, dug and chopped their way across large, loosely hung canvases. More than a simple return to old subjects, the painting is an act of combined self-destruction and re-creation. Trusttum has pulled an earlier painting from his well-stocked archive and energetically reworked it.
The ‘chopper’ in this painting fuses the chunkiness of a child’s cartoon figure with the fierceness of a Samurai warrior, and demonstrates the invigorating effect on Trusttum’s work of another unexpected source – Japanese Manga. The jostling composition and flexing patterns bring home the worker’s grunting exertion and glee. This is a work about work, in which the labourer’s focused energy is more than matched by the painter who created him.

not on view

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