20th October - 8th November 2016

Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand
Ph: (09) 638 8965

Neal Palmer: Horsing Around




"My latest show ‘Horsing Around’ evolved from a work I created as part of a show in 2004 called ‘35K & The Golden Apple’. The brief was to create a piece which represented the value of Billy Apple’s solid gold apple, the centerpiece of the show. It started a train of thought about monetary valuation within aspects of our cultural landscape.

These ideas subsequently reemerged and reformatted in equestrian imagery. I have always had an emotional attachment to horses since learning to ride in my childhood and been drawn to the majestic form of the horse: the way they move, the way their short coat reveals the underlying anatomy. My attraction to the horse as a subject and the interest in how we value culture monetarily came together in a group of works for a solo show at SOCA gallery in 2007 called ‘White Light’.

In 2007 I began exploring the way horses are valued as an allegory to the way art works are valued. There seems to be a similar pattern by way of the sliding scale of monetary value. There is a lot of art created in the world - as there are many horses - the majority of which are both reasonably affordable. As quality increases so does value, as is normal in our economic culture. It’s the way both value systems explode exponentially at the high end which interests me. The values go from a few thousand dollars for very good quality - to millions for art work/horses that have gained cultural significance by winning races, competitions, curatorial favour or simply have the right breeding. It was by way of drawing attention to these similarities that my horse works developed.

The majority of work in this show is focused on trying to understand in a more nuanced way the co-relationship and dependence between people and horses. For the last few years I have attended the Karaka sales days with this project in mind and become increasingly fascinated by the relationships between horse, trainer, enthusiast and purchaser. My interest eventually brought me back to individual horses, each animals’ distinct personality and reaction to their surroundings, through movement, body language, expression and suggestion.

Most of the paintings reference the way thoroughbred race horses are typically photographed for sales promotion: side on, head up, tail down.  It’s a potent look, though static, the horses are somehow at their most majestic.

I have aimed to keep the horses generally free of environmental context though offer small clues through the position of reins and the horses actions as to what’s going on around the animals. I’m looking to draw out an emotional charge with these paintings which emanates from the individual horse both interacting and reacting with it’s environment.

I am still working out where I sit emotionally within the equestrian world, at present I’m an observer with an aesthetic appreciation but this show is a further step in understanding that world."  Neal Palmer 2016

*More work to be added - please contact the gallery for complete list of works. 

Shades of Grey (Horse puzzle) Shades of Grey  - Installation View Red Gold High Hopes
High Hopes - Side View You Scratch My Back and I'll Scratch Yours Gold'n' Horse Brown on Blue
Dark Horse Midas Touch Black Beauty String Theory
Banzai Out of the Shadows Two Worlds