A Colourful Life – Bernard Waters, Dec 2020.

Posted by Fiona Cable on

Opened Saturday 5 December

Bernard Waters has been exploring colour in paint and in life for as long as he can remember. His highly individual, colourful abstract paintings reveal the peripatetic life of an intelligent and experienced artist.

Graduating from Elam in 1964 and with several subsequent sell out shows in Auckland behind him, Europe beckoned. His early promising talent would benefit from a year or two abroad. Paris was a hotbed of artistic talent, a place for emerging artists to rub shoulders with renowned painters, and a place to thrive. Waters found good company, rubbing shoulders with abstract expressionists and mixing in artistic circles, he pursued the bohemian dream in mid-century Paris. Water’s also pursued printmaking in a famous Atelier founded by Stanley William Hayter, still regarded as one of the most significant printmakers of the 20th century.

One year in Paris, turned into six, building exhibition experience and teaching English before Waters returned to New Zealand. It wasn’t long however, before the ‘itch needed a scratch’ and he was off again, this time to Switzerland for a year. Painting there and working part-time in the restaurant trade, he returned to New Zealand, this time to be restaurateur, chef and owner of a boutique bistro, The Artichoke in Newmarket. Here he displayed his personal art collection, including works by Stanley Palmer, Louise Henderson, Philip Clairmont as well as his own work, attracting a discerning clientele with a penchant for the arts.

This culinary diversion took him away from his first love of painting, so four challenging yet successful years later, he sold up, despatching himself to Hamburg to reignite the energy he had to paint. During this period Waters explored expansive technical possibilities and wider range of hues, dramatizing painting’s materiality and visual force. He deployed pattern, geometric arrangement, and intense colour combinations to emphasize that vision is a commingling of physical response and unconscious association.

Bernard Waters at Railway Street Gallery Newmarket

Among his accomplishments Waters mastered printmaking, designed a stained-glass window, plus costumes and sets for theatre. He participated in many group shows in Paris at the Grand Palais, as well as being awarded a bronze medal at the Salon des Beaux Arts, Juvisy. The various and varied influences that affected Water’s work and development combine to produce a most colourful life story and oeuvre. Some of the intensity and sensuality of Europe is still present in the works painted for this exhibition, A Colourful Life.

"What a pleasure to see Bernard Waters’ Auckland colour harmonies, with Parisian style from his background there. French tinted spectacles on New Zealand eyes." Terry Stringer

"An undeniable feeling of exuberance, exploration and technical confidence."  - NZ Herald

Click here to view paintings by B Waters


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