Gary Freemantle came to prominenence as a painter in the 1980s with his expressionist landscapes. For the past decade Freemantle has been creating his own pigments using natural products such as mud, quartz, sand, coal, pyrites, and manganese, a practise as old as cave painting.
The inspiration for these earth-based works arrived on Freemantle’s doorstep at Paekakariki during the floods of 2003 when muddy deposits that were left after the water subsided. The first of these mud landscapes, collectively titled Dirty Pictures, exhibited at Paekakariki’s One Eye Gallery later in the year. This began what Art writer and collector Warwick Brown calls “a journey of discovery that saw him roaming over the landscape, not just to find suitable subjects to paint, but to locate his painting materials.” To date Freemantle has sourced over one hundred earth-based pigments, including difficult colours like blue, yellow, red and green.
Freemantle who graduated from Canterbury University with a Diploma in Fine Arts (Painting) in 1984 and was a recipient of a Young Artists’ grant in 1985, has been working and exhibiting for three decades. He has held a number of artists’ residencies including the prestigious NZ Arts Council Rita Angus Residency in 1988-9 and the William Hodges Fellowship in 2012. In recent years he has had solo shows at an eclectic range of venues from the Auckland Art Gallery to Dub Pies in New York, and has regularly shown at the Brooke-Gifford Gallery, Christchurch and Mary Newton Gallery, Wellington. His work has also been included in numerous group shows over the years. Freemantle was a James Wallace Art Awards Runner up 1994 and has been a finalist 15 times. His work is held in numerous public collections including the Ashfield Council, Sydney, the James Wallace Arts Trust, Auckland, the Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui, the National Library, Wellington, the Auckland Museum and the Southland Museum and Art Gallery. Black Asterisk has a selection of Freemantle’s latest work and will be announcing dates for an exhibition soon.