Honouring artistic genius



A special exhibition’s being held at Queenstown’s Tim Wilson Gallery to celebrate the evolution of the painter’s works.

Wilson, a local resident, died last month aged 65, after an almost 10-year battle with cancer.

The celebrated oil painter was famous for his mastery of light.







The tribute exhibition, which includes some paintings sold before his death, shows how his
technique evolved from studying the Old Masters to creating his own unique and incredible style of landscape painting.

‘‘He developed a technique that he then became world-acclaimed for in 2015, it was unique to oil painting and was due to the number of layers of transparent and translucent glazes with pigment in it that reflected light,’’ gallery consultant Rachel Harper-Dibley says.

The paintings on show change with the day’s natural light, but the gallery’s also using spotlights that can be raised or dimmed to show the effects Wilson created with his brushstrokes.

‘‘They’re absolutely mind-bogglingly beautiful,’’ says Harper-Dibley, adding sometimes the paintings are mistaken for photographs because of how detailed and vivid they are.

Wilson was originally from Palmerston North and was a self-taught artist inspired in 1970,
then aged 16, while on a school trip to the South Island, travelling between Wanaka and Lake Hawea.

He went on to become world-renowned and set up his Beach Street gallery about 10 years ago.

In 2015, Wilson’s piece, Summer Rains in Doubtful Sound, set the New Zealand record for a living artist when an international collector paid $575,000 for it.

Harper-Dibley: ‘‘Each one of these was from Tim’s memory and imagination, he didn’t paint
in situ, he didn’t paint from photographs, he wasn’t sketching.’’

Wilson used pure pigment painted directly on to berge linen, covering not just the face of the canvas but the sides as well, to create an almost 3D effect.

The exhibition began on Sunday and will run till this Saturday, between noon and 5pm.

Harper-Dibley: ‘‘He didn’t like the elitism that came with fine art of this quality.

‘‘He wanted his gallery to be accessible to absolutely everybody — that you could get a nose length away from these very valuable paintings so he could entice you and show you the passion he had for beautiful landscape, for light, for painting in general.

‘‘You are virtually seeing the world through Tim’s eyes every time you look at a painting, he
had total recall, he could see every detail and tone within the sky, leaves and water.

‘‘He could remember and replicate it in his paintings.’’

Wilson’s work drew people to visit from around the world over the years.

Since his death, the gallery’s been ‘‘inundated’’ with kind messages from those unable to
visit due to border closures.

Harper-Dibley says the exhibition’s about giving people the space to pay their respects.

‘‘We’ve had all extremes over the week, with people being in tears, people being very quiet, and people full of questions about Tim.’’