Art22 November 2021by Te Manawa

When the painting comes alive

Have you ever seen a piece of artwork that so exactly captures what you’re feeling – or what you want to feel – that you experience a physical reaction?

Any one of the pieces in Jack Trolove’s new exhibition “Keening”, opening in the Art Gallery on 11 December, could provoke that in someone viewing them. Most are more than a metre across and composed with assured strokes of boldly coloured paint. The face could feel familiar to you; it could be a stranger. Yet each one is filled with a kaleidoscope of emotion, waiting for the viewer to unlock it.

If you were to visit Trolove’s Northland studio, it is his palette that gives the first clue about the link between his practice and his finished works. No dainty hand-held thing for him: instead he uses a large table, where browns and pinks mix with blue, purples, greens and oranges. From these colours emerge the depths of expression to be found in every single one of his works.

“I can tell when a painting works because my heart beats a bit faster,” says Trolove. “When the paint is really tactile and seductive, it can hold a lot – it can carry unsettling or disturbing or painful.”

Just like a real human face, there’s a lot to unpack in any given moment while looking at these paintings.

“The paintings are who they are,” he continues. “I don’t get much say over that, to be honest, but I feel like we’ve done our collaborative job well when at the end, they are really sentient and alive, but not settled.”

Trolove has been painting for more than twenty years, and has held exhibitions in Australia, France and Spain. This new show at Te Manawa will be his first solo New Zealand exhibition held outside one of the main centres.

“Keening” opens on 11 December. Entry to the Art Gallery is free of charge.