|War Flowers (detail) enamel on wood, 2006|
|Contemporary Alchemy paintings by Terry Fourt-Wells
Idiom Studio, 6 June 21 July, 2006
“I feel like I’ve discovered a little chink in the armoury of the art world,’ says self-taught Wellington artist Terrence Fourt-Wells.
Terry has been painting for the last 30 years, and in that time has had one exhibition, at the long-vanished Bett Duncan Gallery. Idiom Studio, based in the very same Cuba Street building, is proud to once again present the work of this remarkable and prodigally talented artist.
Using a special painting technique which he won’t divulge, he produces richly worked abstract forms which resemble microscope images of cellular life. These are produced as sets of small panels, assembled into modular repeated forms to give a vigorously rhythmic sense of organic energy.
Terry is a wiry, well-spoken individualist who was raised in the UK and first earned money from his artwork at public school, when his drawings of naked ladies sold to fellow students for sixpence each. “I always knew I was an artist,” he says, “but no-one else recognised it, including my art teacher.”
After arriving in New Zealand in the early 60s, Fourt-Wells found a job on the Wellington waterfront and spent the next 30 years there. It proved to be strangely suitable work for a passionate painter, since wharfies’ working conditions in those days included the right to knock off in the event of rain. Wellington weather afforded Terrence frequent opportunities to bike home during the day and get some more painting done.
The painting technique he has developed, involving intricate manipulation of the wet pigment, appeals to his sense of calculated risk. The images themselves, he says, “come from thinking about how the universe operates, and the underlying structures of living forms.” Now that he has found a means to reveal, with astonishingly beautiful results, what lies beneath the surface of organic life, he says, “I’m not going to paint any other way.”