Dick Frizzell: the maverick artist

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19/10/2011 by Sarah Ritchie

Dick Frizzell Mickey to Tiki 101cm x 78cm

Dick Frizzell “Mickey to Tiki” (101cm x 78cm)

This past weekend I had the opportunity to listen to veteran (I bet he wouldn’t like me using that word) New Zealand artist, Dick Frizzell, give a talk at the newly reopened Auckland Art Gallery.

Dick (he seems like a first name basis kind of guy) has recently written a book titled “It’s All About the Image“, which is a Dick Frizzell take on New Zealand art and New Zealand artists; a series of essays about the art that he likes personally. Simple concept really.

It’s a good sign that you have “made it” in the New Zealand art scene (and be incredibly well-respected) for a publisher to rock up to you and say “Dick, the public wants to know what you – Dick Frizzell the artist – likes”. That would be the NZ art equivalent of giving someone a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In spite of this rare and coveted popularity, I couldn’t find any website for Dick. No website, no blog, no Twitter, no Facebook. I am guessing he invests his time doing the art he loves rather than wasting Tweet-time appeasing the public’s lust for information and interactivity (that’s what he pays gallery curators and publicists for, right?). I did manage to find a collection of Dick’s work on the Smyth Galleries’ website [here], so you can at least see the wide spectrum of work that Dick produces.

Personally, I don’t particularly “like” Dick’s style of painting, but I highly regard him – and his body of work – for the impact that he has had on New Zealand art. If I was ever asked to write a book about my favourite 200 paintings, I would probably include one of Dick’s paintings simply for the influence that his approach to art has had on my own creative thinking. Dick is also the dad of a high school contemporary of mine, so the Frizzell name has been emblazened on my brain for the last 25 years!

One thing that I like about Dick is that – in spite of his immense popularity, and obvious co-dependency on “the system” – he comes across as being quite “anti-establishment”. There is an almost palpable middle-finger-to-the-air vibe in the way he talks, but he does so with such a broad smile on his face that you can’t help but warm to his rebel persona.

Based in the beautiful Hawkes Bay (lucky man), he continues to paint, write and be the inspirational, successful poster boy of contemporary New Zealand art. Good on ya mate!


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Sarah Ritchie
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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
Exhibitor, The Original Art Sale 2011


© Sarah Ritchie 2014

Please do not use copies of my original artwork for profit, however you are welcome to share my artwork images as much as you like!

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