Who the hell is Dick Frizzell?

By John Gow - Director of Gow Langsford Gallery Auckland

A difficult question to answer when one has known him for the past 25 odd years. An art student out of Ilam, Christchurch, who with a new wife Judy, and young children, entered the world of advertising to make a living as so many artists did in the mid-1970s in order to put bread and water on the table. From advertising back to art school, this time Elam, Auckland, as a teacher and then some nineteen years ago that momentous decision.

Dick came in to the gallery and announced with both passion and fear “that’s it, I’ve left the art school and now I am going to just paint.” And paint he has. The landscapes, the tiki, the still lifes, the phantoms, the abstractions, the roadside signs, commissions, sculptures, a retrospective at the Wellington City Gallery with a comprehensive catalogue, the prints, the posters, the tea towels, tee shirts, collar buttons, the works, wine and wine boxes, iPhone cases, Duck Lee coffee and now Dick’s World. Why not! This is completely Dick’s attitude and approach to making work.

Dick and Jude’s’ move back to the Hawke’s Bay ten years ago opened doors and minds to the possibilities of where Dick could go with his practice and one of the resounding themes has been Dick’s approach to what is possible.

The Bay has provided a fertile ground for Dick’s way of seeing, his unique way of mining subject matter from the very fabric of life and everyday living. The simplicity of a road sign advertising local produce pushes a creative button which turns into a significant series of paintings. A few wines with some local wine makers and distributors turn into a Frizzell project encompassing all aspects of labelling, boxing and marketing. Dick’s fertile mind takes an idea and extends it to a place where most people would never imagine it could go. We look forward to where it will take us next.

Now that Dick has moved back to Auckland he is exploring a new identity, through Dick’s World. The social, virtual Dick. Everything about him still as real as in the past, it is just much closer and more interactive now.

So who the hell is Dick Frizzell? One of the living icons of New Zealand contemporary art and a down to earth Kiwi artist.