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March 26, 2007 | by  | in Visual Arts |
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Justin Boroughs

Tinakori Gallery March 15-31

Justin Boroughs, a photo realist painter, evokes strong memories of childhood with his art which uses a style generally used by photographers Boroughs, who has a fourteen year old relationship with the Tinakori Gallery, has returned – with another interpretation of Wellington City and it’s surroundings. The depictions of familiar locations, such as Evans Bay, Worser Bay and the Wellington waterfront, were so realistic that it made me question whether they really were paintings.

Originality is not a concern with photo realists. The whole point is to seek out beautiful images, and paint them, for all to see, in stunning detail. Cameras can easily do this – with a cold efficiency -but a painter (with the skill of Boroughs) can create an effect of warmth and emotion, realised in every brush stroke.

There are many out there who consider photo realism to be rather bourgeois, but I believe it still has a place in today’s art world. The fact that one of Borough’s paintings fooled me into thinking this was going to be a photography exhibition, is a testament to his talent.

I rated Justin highly for his technique. However, I was intrigued as to whether these paintings embodied a deeper meaning than simple aesthetic beauty. Boroughs explained that what he tries to create is an emotional connection with his paintings – memories for those who know these places from their childhood. Boroughs’ main artistic influences include renowned New Zealand painter Grahame Sydney, and great European photo realists of the past, such as Henri Rousseau.

One thing Boroughs does well is capture reflections in water, with a shimmering effect. He achieves this by under-painting the colours with a big brush, using a product called liquin – excellent for glazing and producing fine detail. I was initially concerned that such water techniques would become repetitive. Fortunately, Boroughs is able to illustrate darker and rougher water, as evident in ‘Four Yachts Racing on Wellington Harbour’. Given that these works are set in the 1950s, there appears to be a deeply embedded theme of romantic realism. Flicking through historic photos of this time period, I got a sense of the ‘era of the golden weather’. Borroughs captures this with his still, sunny days and a quiet innocence that remains foreign to the majority of our generation.

My favourite painting, ‘Lindis Pass’, is set in one of the area’s famous valleys – surrounded by rolling hills and tracks in dry grass. This is a painting you would put on your bedroom wall, or anywhere else you’d want to unwind.

What could be better than waking up on a Sunday morning and losing yourself in a painting like this? As you imagine walking though the valley, would you come upon Rohan Horsemen from The Lord of The Rings? Or would you instead feel a form of desolation, inspired by Gus Van Sant’s film, Gerry?

Boroughs’ paintings are highly sought after; this was made apparent by the fact that all but two paintings were sold in Auckland, before the opening night of this exhibition. His works here range in price from $7350-14,900, which is at the higher end of the local art market.

There are probably very few students who could currently afford to buy a painting at this price – but, in future, you may want to consider investing in art pieces of this style.

I managed to chat with two different art enthusiasts, who are still building their own Boroughs collections. It is nice to know that there are young Wellington artists out there who inspire a local following – regardless of their style.

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