Jim Gaunt's paintings are rooted in the now. The vernacular of 21st century living is presented in an assortment of objects that cascade down the canvas. Instances of his own life, some deeply personal and others generally commonplace, combine with the transience of the present. Brightened with graffiti-esque splashes of paint and set off on a white background Gaunt’s works are kaleidoscopic episodes of New Zealand life.
After completing his Bachelor of Fine Art in Wanganui, Gaunt ventured overseas and settled in the artists’ mecca of Berlin. There, in 1999, he viewed the controversial touring exhibition 'Sensation' from the Saatchi and Saatchi collection, which he marks as a turning point in his art. Inspired, he resumed studies in Dunedin for a year, before leaving again, in search of a unique style of painting.
The results of this search can be seen in this exhibition of episodes, a series of works that highlight Gaunt’s stylistic distinction. Loosely drawn lines are reminiscent of quirky illustrations by the likes of Quentin Blake and the inclusion of everyday objects brings to mind Pop art’s elevation of everyday household paraphernalia. The use of bright primary tones and muddy autumnal hues and its intuitive application is a homage to abstract painting, it celebrates the beauty of colour and form, an unencumbered freedom of expression. Simultaneously, Gaunt’s juxtaposition of crowded imagery reflects the fragmentary nature of the visuals that we are infinitely exposed to in the Internet world; he then develops these images of mostly present day icons as metaphors that work together to forge a complex figurative narrative.
Some of the works are taken from episodes in his everyday life with clues given in the titles, such as ‘We better start to pack': a reference to departure. But it is up to the viewer to make associations and it is here that the meaning of the work is formed, unique to every person who brings along their own experiences, thoughts, and emotions.