Stephen Bambury’s productive preoccupation for over forty years with the square, circle and cross has yielded a body of work that mines rich seams. Unlike the rigid formalism adopted by some other artists of the same period, Bambury’s work fuses intellectual and emotional content with material form. He has stated that he has ‘always seen the paintings as a means of promoting an inner reflection and of creating a context where an experiential exchange could take place’; what he calls a painting experience. The central importance of materiality to Bambury’s practice is underpinned by comprehensive technical investigation; he has mastered the use of copper, aluminium, paper, resin, graphite, precious metal gilding, chemical patinas and rust. Sculptural elements comprised of steel, oil and burnt timbers expand the notions of a painting practice, while photography, screen printing and collaborative publications constitute another area of investigation.
Throughout his career, Bambury has travelled extensively in the USA, Europe, and Asia, exploring art and architecture from a diversity of historic periods and cultures; these experiences remaining integral to his studio practice, in New Zealand and France, while exhibiting regularly in Germany since 2009. Employing an exceptional range of scale, Bambury explores and reconnects the apparent dualities of light/dark, negative/positive, masculine/feminine, the sea and the land, the intellectual and emotional and the universal and the particular. Cross works utilise both the form of the cross and its historical associations, such as the four cardinal points, Malevich’s Suprematist cross, and McCahon’s Tau cross. Historical readings of Fra Angelico are given allegorical or emblematic form. Constructivism and Bauhaus remain touchstones. Bambury also undertakes numerous site- responsive commissions, an area of particular interest for him.
Bambury has exhibited regularly in New Zealand since graduation in the mid-70’s from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Art. From the mid-80’s he has exhibited in the USA, Australia, France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia. Among other awards, he received the inaugural New Zealand Moet & Chandon Fellowship in 1989, enabling him to spend two and a half years living and working in France, a life-changing experience for the then-pre-internet artist based in New Zealand. A major retrospective exhibition at Wellington’s City Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki marked the turn of the century, along with the publication of a monograph. Bambury’s works are held in all major museum collections in New Zealand, and in Australia, USA, France and Germany.
Bambury lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand.