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Ashburton Art Gallery

327 West St

Ashburton | 7700

P | 03 308 1133

E |

Gallery Hours

Open Daily: 10am - 4pm

Wednesday: 10am - 7pm

Closed Good Friday, Anzac Morning and Christmas day


Film Screening | Clairmont on Clairmont  

24 March 21

Join us at the Gallery for a screening of Clairmont on Clairmont, a personal exploration of one of New Zealand’s most powerful painters, Philip Clairmont, by his son Orlando. A son searches for the father he never knew, getting to know him through an extensive compilation of rare archival film and sound recordings.

Producer | Michele Fantl
Director | Orlando Clairmont
Duration | 50 minutes


Review from TVNZ:

Twenty-three years after the death of his father, Orlando Clairmont resolves to find out who his father really was. Sorting the man from the myth, uncovering the elusive art, reconstructing his father from an archive, having a conversation across time – with a dead man. Attempting a resurrection of flesh and blood.

Clairmont On Clairmont is unique in that we get to hear Philip Clairmont discuss his own work in his own words, as reconstructed from audio interviews conducted before his death.

Featuring 101 original works by one of New Zealand’s most powerful painters; including material from the artist’s own notebooks, rarely seen nudes from the family collection, juvenilia from his mother’s personal collection, and classic Clairmonts from all the major galleries, institutions and collections in NZ – as well as a wealth of newly discovered and never before seen archival film footage of the man himself.

All pieced together and narrated by the artist’s son, Clairmont On Clairmont sheds new light on the process, methods and meaning behind some of Clairmont’s best known paintings as well as offering a powerfully personal portrait of an idiosyncratic painter and an enigmatic father.

Orlando Clairmont explores Philip Clairmont’s body of work, joining with his father in taking us on a guided tour through some of Clairmont’s prolific output, focusing on pieces of personal significance to Orlando and his father and mother. Including rarely seen late works of the artist’s family; the Birth Triptych, Nude Triptych, Our Lady of the Flowers, The Holy Family and major Clairmonts from key collections and institutions in NZ.

Orlando reconstructs a brief biography of his father’s life and times, placing him in the surrounding context of recent NZ history and the wider tradition of painting itself.

Including interviews with Philip Clairmont, his partner (Rachel Power – Orlando’s mother) and the priceless recollections of Phil’s mother, the late Thelma Clairmont.

Clairmont On Clairmont also features numerous stills from the family archive and images from many well known New Zealand photographers: Mark Adams, Simon Buis, John Daley, Rachael Feather, Marti Friedlander, Sally Griffin, Gil Hanly, Glenn Jowitt, Lawrence N. Shustak and Paul Tulloch.

Who is Philip Clairmont?

Philip Clairmont was one of the success stories of New Zealand painting in the 1970s.

In under a decade he rose to the heights of the NZ art game, fomenting a reputation as a brilliant painter, wildman, enfant terrible, a visionary seemingly without limits. As Colin McCahon said: “He’s one of the best, one of the very best.”

Clairmont painted domestic interiors, mundane objects and vibrant figures, fiery portraits and blistering self portraits, nudes, crucifixions – all in an intense, distinct, hallucinogenic style (borrowing from German Expressionism, medieval masters, underground comics and psychedelic head art all intertwined with a rock and roll approach).

He gave blazing light to a whole household of objects; creating iconic images now studied in art galleries and classrooms across NZ. He scarred couches, opened windows into other worlds, made light bulbs explode, set fireplaces ablaze, made clotheslines spin, sinks wink and eyes pop out of peoples heads.

The antithesis of a minimalist; he was a maximalist – putting everything into his art.

He unleashed an intensity of raw paint, pure colour and anthropomorphic imagery upon the consciousness of our young country, leaving a mark that has yet to be deciphered, let alone understood. For a generation of New Zealanders he was the archetypal artist; tortured, self-reflexive, witty, visually aware, well trained, ironic and undeniably talented. New Zealand’s very own Van Gogh.

The stigma of the ‘mad artist’ was only heightened by his suicide in 1984 at the age of 34, leaving behind a 4-year-old son.