Of Ngāti Maniapoto, Tainui, Te Arawa and Scottish descent, local artist James Ormsby has become well known for his intricate large-scale pencil drawings. Influenced by various cultural histories Ormsby has created an indigenous cartography. Mapping a diverse collection of motifs, symbols and iconography he explores issues of whenua, whakapapa and personal belief systems.
Presented in TU [the space between] are a series of works that include Ormsby’s signature drawings alongside more recent strands to his practice such as oil painting and a performance work called Turrim Scriptorium. Named after the Tower Scriptorium Of Tábara, a medieval manuscript workshop from 970, this is a continuous drawing performance within the gallery for the duration of the exhibition.
James Ormsby, Mr. A (large drawing #26), 2016
His works feature imagery that defy recognized parameters of space and time. Landscapes, objects and body parts are stacked, repeated and twisted out of context, as if they inhabit another dimension.
"[Ormsby’s] visual language shows his personal evolution as an artist prepared to seek out his full potential. His restrained yet voluble pencil and brush marks are complex studies. He has a capacity to make his art reappear as if it struts and strides into traditional and mathematical systems that interconnect with culture. He has a joyous approach to colour and uses natural pigments and oils, graphite and ink materials."
~ Ngahiraka Mason
Ormsby received a Master of Fine Art from RMIT and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Melbourne. Upon returning to New Zealand he was commissioned to paint AUT's wharenui (meeting house) and the ceiling design and artwork for the RNZ Navy wharenui.
He has been a finalist in both the National Contemporary Art Awards, the Wallace Art Awards as well as the New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Awards.
Ormsby is represented by PAULNACHE, Gisborne and Whitespace, Auckland
This exhibition has been generously supported by A1 Wrap.
Top image: James Ormsby, Matawai (detail), 2013, 2018.