Tender is the Night


Media Release: March, 2011. 

Love, Loss and Everything in Between.

How does it feel to be in and out of love? A new exhibition at City Gallery Wellington, Tender is the Night (7 May–17 July), asks this question and looks at the common human emotions of love, desire, longing and grief through the work of a diverse collection of New Zealand and international artists.

Tender is the Night brings together both contemporary and historical artworks to explore the complexity of human relationships. The exhibition features a range of intriguing representations of couples, families, and individuals which collectively consider how we connect with others and how our relationships help to define us as people.

The title of the exhibition Tender is the Night is taken from the title of American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1934 novel of the same name. Fitzgerald’s novel is a layered and complicated contemplation of marriage, control and desire, which fascinated the curator of the exhibition Heather Galbraith, newly appointed Head of the School of Fine Arts at Massey University. This title also appears as a phrase within the Romantic poet John Keats’ well-known poem Ode to a Nightingale, and more recently has been echoed within the song Tender by British indie pop band Blur from the 1990s.

Galbraith comments, “Tender is the Night is something of a mix tape of emotions, moving from that exciting moment of first sight and infatuation, to the intense grief of losing a loved one. One of the interesting aspects of the show is how artists have repeatedly returned to examine the cyclical nature of human existence—and how these emotional experiences are shared and common but are also inflected by time, culture and place.”

Tender is the Night features a core selection of contemporary New Zealand artists, including Derrick Cherrie, Jeffrey Harris, Michael Harrison, Liz Maw, Anne Noble, Fiona Pardington, and Ava Seymour. These works are set alongside key historical works including Japanese Edo period Ukiyo-e woodcut prints, works by 19th century British painter George Dawe and 20th century British artists Stanley Spencer and Eric Gill, New Zealand 20th century artists Frances Hodgkins, Rita Angus and a considered selection of international contemporary artists, including Marlene Dumas, Jesper Just, Catherine Opie and David Rosetzky.

Works have been drawn from public collections including Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu and Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and private lenders including a number of works loaned directly from artists.

The curatorial development of Tender is the Night has been generously supported by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the College of Creative Arts, Massey University.