Tuesday, February 16, 2016


It’s not often one of NZ's public art museums goes …um…public with a point of view on contemporary art but Natasha Conland has given it a good go. She has stepped out with a 20-strong selection of painters in her exhibition Necessary Distraction. It's designed to explore the question, ‘What can painting offer that other art forms cannot?’ There's been some critical writing on the exhibition (The Pantograph Punch and EyeContact) but we were also particularly interested in what this very large contemporary show might say about Chartwell and the Auckland Art Gallery as collectors. Of course as the Chartwell collection is on long-term loan to Auckland Art Gallery but how this relationship plays out is of special interest to the representation of contemporary art.

Some numbers around Necessary Distraction:

55 percent of the artists are women

The average age of all the artists is 42 with 25 percent of them over the age of 50
The average age of the women is 46 and of the men 41
4 of the women are over 50 years old, 2 are over 50 and one is over 70
2 of the men are over 50
Of the artists under 40, 5 of them are women and 4 of them are men

25 percent are represented by Hopkinson Mossman
15 percent by Ivan Anthony
10 percent by Michael Lett
10 percent by Anna Miles
10 percent by Gow Langsford 

30 percent by six different dealers.

Chartwell has bought work by 50 percent of the artists in the exhibition and has 47 paintings by them

The Auckland Art Gallery has works by 20 percent of the artists in Necessary Distraction with 15 paintings by them in its collection

40 percent of the artists in Necessary Distraction have no works in the collections of either the Auckland Art Gallery or Chartwell

The painter in Necessary Distraction with the most works in the two collections is Simon Ingram with 12 in Chartwell but none in the Auckland Art Gallery collection. Next is Dan Arps with 8 works in Chartwell and again none in the Auckland Art Gallery collection

Two artists (Barbara Tuck and Saskia Leek) are represented in the Auckland Art Gallery Collection but not in Chartwell. Eight artists are represented in the Chartwell collection but have not been collected by the Auckland Art Gallery collection (Dan Arps, Andrew Barber, Stella Corkery, Simon Ingram, Patrick Lundberg, Oliver Perkins, Kim Pieters and Jeena Shin).