City Gallery City Gallery Wellington

Past exhibition

Tender Is the Night 

7 May–17 July 2011

ARTISTS Rita Angus, Kushana Bush, Derrick Cherrie, Philip Dadson, George Dawe, Marlene Dumas, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, Eric Gill, Jeffrey Harris, Michael Harrison, Frances Hodgkins, Jesper Just, Katsukawa Shunchō, Utagawa Kunisada, Henry Lamb, Liz Maw, Anne Noble, Catherine Opie, Fiona Pardington, Alan Pearson, Edward Poynter, H. Linley Richardson, Auguste Rodin, David Rosetzky, Ava Seymour, Laurie Simmons, Stanley Spencer, Douglas Stichbury, Suzuki Harunobu, Francis Upritchard, Robin White, Brendon Wilkinson, Erica van Zon CURATOR Heather Galbraith

How does it feel to fall in and out of love? Tender Is the Night brings together works which explore the nature of desire, love, and loss. It takes in courting and romance, but also family relationships (the bonds between parent and child, and between siblings), and the loss of loved ones through break-up or death. Love can be joyous, messy, and, as the show reveals, difficult define and to depict. With works ranging from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, it's a sticky, exhilarating mix tape, ranging from the melancholic to the euphoric, the sentimental to the downright lusty.

The title is taken from a 1934 F Scott Fitzgerald novel, which charts a dysfunctional, yet surprisingly resilient bond between a husband and wife, pressured through infidelity, mental illness, and financial crisis. The phrase appeared earlier in John Keats’s 1819 poem Ode to a Nightingale, where the poet explores the fleeting nature of mortal existence. More recently, the British band group Blur reiterated it in their 1998 love song ‘Tender’. The show takes the echoing of this phrase across time and space as its inspiration.