Having the opportunity to spend over a week in New York recently to work closely with the artist Max Gimblett and his studio assistants in making a selection from Max's extensive collection of works on paper for a gift to Christchurch Art Gallery rates as one of the highlights of my job as a curator.
This is an extremely generous gift from Max and includes some 200 works spanning several decades from the beginnings of his career in the mid-1960s through to works that have just been completed in the past few months. The process was one of those rare opportunities for a curator to examine first hand a large body of work, spanning an artist's entire career, in depth and being able to discuss their art with the artist himself as the viewing takes place.
The sumi ink drawings were a revelation to see first hand, the enso ‘circle' drawings in particular struck a serene chord with me. These are beautifully balanced, harmonious works where Max draws on all his skills with brush, ink and paper to produce works that are highly meditative. The process of producing these wonderful drawings brings together, in a fraction of a second, works that are at once considered and meditative yet spontaneous at the same time.
On one of the last mornings at the studio I happily accepted the offer to accompany Max and his assistant Giovanni to the New York Central Art Supply store, just up the road from Max's studio. The paper department at the store was incredible. It boasts a huge variety of papers from around the world and this is where Max has sourced much of his paper over the years. Many of pieces favoured by Max are hand-made by papermaking Masters throughout Asia.