Sam Mitchell and Gavin Hurley enjoy showing their distinctive and signature paintings together at Bartley & Company Art. Both share an interest in portraiture that goes beyond concerns with likeness. For them portraiture is a vehicle to disrupt expectations, to collage contradictions, convey inner realities and to explore the place of portraiture in the fine arts.
Sam Mitchell here focuses her attention on several prominent 20th century New Zealand artists who were partof ‘The Group’ which formed, in the pre-commercial gallery era, to share more experimental ideas about artand to create exhibitions. Mitchell describes her paintings as ‘portraits from the inside out’ – a concept thatapplies to both her content and technique. Painting in reverse on Perspex, emulating the ancient reverseglass painting technique, creates a slick industrial flat surface which interacts with the ideas at play in herwork, reinforcing the tension between the veneer of the outer character and his or her suggested inner life.
Mitchell completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2000.Since then, she has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work is in public collections in New Zealandand in private collections in New Zealand, the US, the UK and Egypt. In 2010 she was the Paramount winnerof the Wallace Trust Art Award; in 2014 she won the William Hodges Southland Trust Residency in Invercargilland in 2015, the Sarjeant Gallery Tylee Cottage artist residency.
Gavin Hurley’s works challenge conventional portraiture asking questions about what is revealed and what ishidden. Central to his practice is an exploration of masculinity and the working world of men with the nature ofmen's work historicised and his male characters frequently depicted as faceless bureaucrats. Viewers are leftto ascribe personalities, archetypes even, to the cut-out figures. In this exhibition, he investigates ideas aboutthe place of portrait painting in art history and its ongoing relevance in the digital era.
Hurley has been working as a full-time artist since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from theElam School of Fine Arts at Auckland University in 1998. He has exhibited nationally and internationally andhas works held in public and private collections throughout New Zealand, Australia and Europe.