Following 14 years based in Woodhill, Auckland, Stephen Howard has recently relocated to Nelson. Fresh inspiration from the coast of the South Island can be seen in his new works. Howards’s unique painting style combines attention to detail and the building of many layers of paint to result in an organic but highly focused impression of the subject of interest. A fascination with isolated stands of trees along the coastal road continues a theme which has seen the artist explore the many moods of a particular stand of kauri back in Woodhill. His new Tree Island series demonstrate colour as an important aspect in expressing each trees individuality within the whole, varying shades denoting each life force nurtured by chlorophyll and sunlight. There is a poetic dichotomy of movement and stillness within the works, giving a sense of captured growth or time within each piece.
Urban Tree Number 7
Raincloud Over Woodhill
Red Blue Green and Yellow
Contrasting elements of landscape and architecture are often manipulated to give Howards’s work a further surreal quality, questioning our familiar reality. Trees flourishing in the urban environment hold a special interest, as with ‘Urban Tree Number 7’, which seems to celebrate nature’s resilience and a quirky triumph over seemingly insurmountable walls and pavement.
Also included in the exhibition are some Sea Mist works, the outcome of an interest in old Chinese landscapes. These were traditionally painted in ink against white, and Howards’s interpretation results in a successful paring down of his subject (trees) to their essential character, fully within his own idiosyncratic style.
Howard has been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland since 1978. Parnell Gallery has represented Howard since August 2009 and is excited to be hosting another dynamic show from this unique artist.