Van der Velden: Otira, by Peter Vangioni and Dieuwertje Dekkers (Christchurch Art Gallery, 2011), 96 pp. $49.99.
Serendipitously, shortly after receiving the review copy of the Christchurch Art Gallery’s Van der Velden Otira catalogue (authored by Peter Vangioni and Dieuwertje Dekkers), I made the trip from Christchurch through Otira to Greymouth on the Transalpine train. A frequent visitor to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery as a child, van der Velden’s A Waterfall in the Otira Gorge, oil on canvas, 1891, was one of my favourite memories; it drew me in to its immense expanse demonstrating painting’s ability to be experienced rather than just looked at. In front of this work, I was more than a mere visitor to a cultural institution: I was standing somewhat fearfully in the path of an uncontrollable torrent of rushing white water descending from dark, jagged rocks tossed haphazardly into its path with the passage of time. Its thick, wild brush strokes and dense layering of oil paint accentuated its dark, rugged and dangerous nature. [Read more…]