Now splitting his time between New Zealand and Europe, Stephen Bambury presents a solo exhibition of new works that incorporate his thinking and material approaches across his nearly five decades of practice while referencing the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus.
Long an admirer of the Bauhaus, this exhibition includes specific reference to the school in Bambury’s new large-scale photograph. Oddly reminiscent of early constructivist paintings from a century earlier, but thoroughly contemporary in their materiality, are Bambury’s remarkably complex and powerful new works, developed since 2016. As ever, the artist explores and delivers fusion of deeply personal and emotional content with substantively researched materiality.
Bambury’s constant investigation of materiality drives his practice and delivers visually rich and compelling works. 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. The central importance of materiality to his practice is underpinned by comprehensive technical investigation; together with mixing his own paints, Bambury 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. Photography, screen prints and collaborative publications constitute another area of current investigation, and he also undertakes numerous site-responsive commissions, an area of particular interest for him.
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. 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.
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.