Artists Work Sells for Record

A landscape by Central Otago artist Grahame Sydney has sold at auction for a record $91,500.  Sydney’s 1999 oil-on-linen Summer Night, Ida Valley fetched an auction record during the sale at the International Art Centre in Parnell on Wednesday.

Sydney yesterday said the work was part of a continuing series exploring the landscapes of Central Otago, where the artist has lived since the mid-1990s. Intimate knowledge of a region grew the longer one was deeply immersed in a particular place, he said.

The work was inspired by the landscape between Oturehua and Poolburn but it was not meant to be geographically accurate.  “A painting is a different thing from the truth, paintings are not supposed to be honest,” he said.

International Art Centre director Richard Thomson said the price tag was almost $20,000 more than the previous Sydney auction record of about $80,000.  It was important to distinguish between auction records and the prices achieved by private sellers, Mr Thomson said.  There was plenty of interest from domestic and overseas bidders during the auction, which started with an opening bid of $50,000, he said.

The oil-on-linen was a dramatic, atmospheric painting by New Zealand’s pre-eminent landscape artist, a man with wide appeal, Mr Thomson said.  Summer Night, Ida Valley has been in a Dunedin private collection since 1999, and sold to another New Zealand-based private collector. It was possible the work would stay in the South Island, he said.

The 1999 oil was previously exhibited in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. 

The Southland Times 01 April 2011