14 March - 14 June 2015

Alberto Garcia-Alvarez: Crossings

Auckland abstract painter Alberto Garcia-Alvarez is a little-known but influential figure in New Zealand art. Born in Spain, he moved to California in 1960 and, in 1973, to Auckland. Garcia-Alvarez works in series, exploring the possibilities of different approaches in parallel. Throughout his career, he has continued to make both gestural paintings and painted constructions. He has also experimented with lithography. He is best known for Collective Mind (1979), his ceramic mural on the facade of the Physics and Mathematics Building at the University of Auckland. Although, he has worked consistently, he has rarely exhibited.

Crossings is an ongoing series of painted wooden constructions that Garcia-Alvarez began making in Sausalito, California, in 1967. At first, the constructions were purely formal, with no intended symbolism. But later, he would occasionally admit religious and political associations. He explains: "The title Crossings refers to the intersection points of objects, or to ideas crossing each other. It also refers to the act of crossing; the crossing over an obstacle or a prejudice."  Over the years, Garcia-Alvarez has produced more than 100 of these constructions. Although they often appear modest and casually arranged and painted, the longer you look at them, the more finely calibrated and tuned they seem.

Alberto Garcia-Alvarez was born in Spain in 1928 and studied painting at the University of Barcelona. In 1960, he moved to California, where he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and had solo shows at San José Art Centre and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 1973, he moved to Auckland where he taught at Elam School of Fine Arts for twenty years. There, he had a huge influence on a generation of artists, including Graeme Cornwall, Stephen Bambury and Judy Millar.

Our exhibition was selected from a larger show of Garcia-Alvarez’s constructions held at Auckland’s Tim Melville Gallery in 2014.