Ian Axtell immigrated to Auckland, New Zealand from England in 1973 with his wife and young family. Axtell gained a Bachelor of Arts in 1986 with the intention of becoming a teacher; he was also working as an artist in pottery, sculpture and painting. In 2007 he completed a Graduate Diploma in painting from Auckland University, with painting in acrylics now his main focus. The development of Axtell’s painting style is an interesting one.
Axtell’s art practice encompasses a diverse range of styles from minimalism to abstraction and abstract expressionism. However the Taranaki environment is the main inspiration for his work. He credits liberation from the formal and minimal to the warm welcome offered by the local community when he and his wife arrived in Taranaki.
Glimpses of tui, kereru, bush and mountain from my studio window are some of the images and colours that, when abstracted, provide the base on which multi layers of pigment are applied. The palette represents my take on the colours of my world with a reference to the iconic black of New Zealand.
The dichotomy of our past and present are represented in these works. My aim being to provide a visual narrative of our “now”: the fast pace, connections and disconnections of our milieu represented by grid, line and hue and incorporating fragments of our “then”.
My practice, in this age of technological marvels, consists of applying modern materials by hand on canvas, a traditional process far removed from the computer design skills of my grandchildren.
At first Axtell’s previous works may look very different, but they do hold similar values. Axtell has been translating and abstracting what he experiences into a painting. Overall there is an attention to how the things around him, be it sounds, colour, or architectural space, can be translated, looked at and considered in a new way.
Examples of Ian Axtell’s artwork can be seen at Mobile Art Gallery, 23 Edwin Street, Mt Eden, Auckland