The End of Nothing 

non-objective paintings 2005 - 2007 
Chris Heaphy

10 - October 27, 2007

Tiritiri Matangi: cadmium red vibrates along its junction with a white stripe. And a similar white pushes up into mustard, taking a cumin-like brown ever so slightly upwards with it. I feel like I'm in an Indian spice shop.


Huia - 710 x 1120mm, Acrylic on Belgian linen.
Black, red and white bounce and tingle upon meeting. These are the colours of tinorangatiratanga, (of Maori self-determination), though in Chris Heaphy's painting Huia, they fall more along the lines of reconstructed swastika.
Huia is a diptych, two panels the reverse of one another, flipped and butted together. 710 x 1120mm. There is marvellous attention to edge - both painted and folded. As there should be. And acrylic is layered so thin that the warp and weave of Belgian linen rewards intimate viewing. It is however, the crisp clarity of Huia's white spine bookended with red that brings structure and solidity to this elegant painting.
The three small paintings in the show are named after New Zealand birds; the two bigger ones titled after islands in the New Zealand archipelago. And that is consistent with Heaphy's earlier cataloguing strategy.

What is also consistent here is the nuance of his exhibition titling. This show is The End of Nothing, non-objective paintings 2005 - 2007. His last show at Jonathan Smart Gallery was called After The Big Bang. Both describe a knowing and playful emptiness located within a rich sense of the past.
There have been two consistent threads to Heaphy's practice for over 15 years. And each has been spun to some sort of conclusion within the exhibitions mentioned above. Figuratively speaking, After The Big Bang graphically utilised a vocabulary ranging from moustache and walking stick to the upraised hand of (the Maori prophet) Ratana - a visual symbology that Heaphy had quietly grown since leaving Arts School in the early 90's.

Alongside this body of work there existed another - several series of paintings including Wonderworks (2002) and Stereo (2004) that were hard-edged and abstract. These were in some ways the product of Heaphy's close relationship with Gordon Walters in his last years; but they were also the result of two years in Paris (2000 and 2001), where Heaphy enjoyed the comparative abundance of contemporary European modernism.

A fortnight ago at Frieze, (London), gallerist Maryanne Boesky from Manhatten pre-sold three paintings by Chris Heaphy. They were brand new canvases. And that's another story (another exhibition title) - very possibly the significant beginning of something.

Jonathan Smart


Kiwi Pukupuku




List of works:

Motuihe      acrylic on Belgian linen      1620 x 1400mm         
Tiri Tiri Matangi      acrylic on Belgian linen      1620 x 2800mm        
Kiwi Pukupuku      acrylic on Belgian linen      710 x 560mm             
Huia      acrylic on Belgian linen      710 x 1120mm             
Kea      acrylic on Belgian linen      710 x 560mm