~ Barry Lett
New Zealand, (1940 – 2017)
~ One of the most colourful characters on the New Zealand art scene ~ Barry Lett (1940-2017) was a strong supporter of The Vivian ~ This delightful small show is a treasure box of visual gems
Barry Lett (1940 – 2017) had a life as colourful as his artworks. An artist. A gallerist. An environmentalist. An activist. A father. And a friend to many. Barry became a full-time artist around 1975 – becoming well known for his increasingly large-scale sculptural works, in addition to his paintings and drawings.
All of the pieces in this small show are delightful portraits – mostly in Barry’s more recent signature ballpoint pen and ink. Many have never been formally exhibited in New Zealand. The dates of these pieces vary enormously, including two from the late 1970’s together with those from 2015/16. Yet even within this timeframe, each portrait manages to exude the timeless joy and whimsical nature of Barry’s practice. They are brilliant examples of his drawing style – and we like to imagine he made them simply to make the viewer (and himself) smile. We’re also excited to have two of the last mid-sized editions of Barry’s ‘Sniffing Dog’ in bronze, cast especially for this show.
To counter its banal over-intellectualising and aloof posturing, the art world still needs artists like Barry Lett. Not least to remind us of the power that an artist can give to each and every one of us – to connect to something deeper, to revel in human connection, and sometimes even just to brighten our day.