Essays & Articles

An Episode of Events

Playing off a dominant circle shape against chevrons and triangles in a square ground, this work was an experiment by the artist in combining ideas about geometric pattern painting into “one grand pictorial assembly”.

As such, it creates the illusion of forms coalescing and fragmenting at the same time, organised into a coherent composition ruled by the logic of symmetry. Like all abstract paintings, this work is full of accidents and incidents. Basic shapes and colours collide creating new forms. Parallelograms intersect with isosceles triangles to form squares, or click together as six pointed stars and diamonds.

With a parallel career as a designer of television sets and corporate graphics, Roy Good is practised in the combination of allusion and illusion, and his work reflects his environment. Surrounding his home at Waiatarua is the bush of the Waitakere Ranges, where light interacts with the segmented and broken forms of the Claude Megson architecture, chaos and order held in balance. In the period in which this work was made, Roy Good was flirting with optical art after seeing the catalogue for the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “The Responsive Eye” in 1965. He aimed to create art works that existed less as objects than as generators of perceptual responses. To this end, he investigated the chromatic tension of juxtaposed complementary (chromatically opposite) colours of equal intensity. Red and green predominate in this work, and gradated colour which creates the illusion of movement, preventing the viewer’s eye from resting long enough on any one part of the surface to be able to interpret it literally.

Reflecting on the process and result, the artist remembers: “The work was too complex to be considered successful and was criticised for being purely decorative. It provided a motivation to be more reductive with ideas about painting and it led to the more minimal work of the mid -1970s in which I sought to integrate shape and content into a “one hit” pictorial solution.” After 1972 he abandoned the rectangular or square canvas format for shaped canvases to achieve this synthesis.

Dr Ed Hanfling of the Art History Department has curated the exhibition “In Good Form: The Abstract Art of Roy Good 1967-2007” which is on show at Lopdell House in Titirangi until 10 February.

Linda Tyler

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