Back in New Zealand after months re-establishing a European studio, Stephen Bambury presents his first major solo exhibition since October 2014. Throughout his career, Bambury has traveled extensively in the USA, Europe, and Asia, exploring art and architecture from a diversity of historic periods and cultures. These experiences are integral to his long studio practice, not peripheral pleasures. For this exhibition Bambury, for whom reconnecting contemporary art to threads of the atavistic remains a primary impetus, has installed selected pieces from his personal collection, ranging from the utilitarian to the sacred, to sit in conversation with his works to amplify subtle connections and inspirations. The title of the exhibition alludes to intuitive pathways, forged and re-travelled time and again, sometimes physically sometimes metaphysically, that eventually coalesce as a life’s work. 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.
Curated from works spanning newly created to the early 90’s, this exhibition delivers a fresh take on Bambury’s deep mastery of materiality and recurring preoccupations. His constant investigation of materiality drives Bambury’s practice and delivers a visually rich and compelling exhibition. No empty formalist, more an alchemist, Bambury’s comprehensive technical mastery sees exhibited works utilizing precious and semi-precious metal gilding, graphite, resin, chemical patinas and rust. An exceptional range of scale in the paintings, from several meters to under 200 millimeters, gives physical punch to the exhibition.
Born in Christchurch, Stephen Bambury has been exhibiting regularly in New Zealand since the mid-1970s, after graduating with a Diploma of Fine Arts (Hons) from the University of Auckland. From the mid-1980s he has exhibited in the USA, Australia, France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia. Among other awards he received the inaugural New Zealand Moët & Chandon Fellowship in 1989; including the Fellowship period, Bambury spent two and a half years living and working in France – a life-changing experience. A major retrospective exhibition at Wellington’s City Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki and the publication of a monograph marked the turn of the century. Since 2009 Bambury has been exhibiting regularly in Germany.