Over the course of a fifty-year career, Ian Scott (1945-2013) consistently pushed the boundaries of representation and appropriation in New Zealand art. Scott began his career working as a landscape painter, responding to the tradition of hard-edged regionalism that dominated New Zealand art. However, by the early 1970s he began drawing from trends in international Modernism, bringing a much needed internationalism into New Zealand’s parochial scene. In particular, the geometric abstraction of American painters like Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis increasingly informed Scott’s practice.
In 1975, Scott began his ‘Lattice’ series, a mode that would dominate his output in the late 1970s, and one which he would frequently return to over the course of his career. The rules of the ‘Lattice’ system were flexible, with many variations produced across Scott’s engagement with the motif, but the archetypal ‘Lattice’ painting sees diagonal bands of colour interlaced across a square canvas.
After his first foray into the ‘Lattice,’ Scott began new experiments into abstraction, one of which was the Asymmetrical Chevrons, a unique suite made between 1983 and 1984. Playful and bold, vari-coloured skies hover above abstracted cloud and landscape forms. With their dynamic, lightening-bolt shapes and high-key colours, these high-spirited paintings exude energy and optimism.
The Asymmetrical Lattices of 1983 are part of developments Scott made through the period 1982–1986. Unlike the even, diagonal emphasis of the earlier ‘Lattice’ works, the Asymmetrical Lattices involve thick bands of colour grouped either to one side or the top of the picture plane. There is a tightening and tension as well as a command of negative space.
Works by Scott were frequently exhibited at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, including Abstract Attitudes (1976), The Grid (1983), and Local Revolutionaries: Art & Change 1965-1986 (2010). He has also exhibited Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading art institutions, including: Te Papa Tongarewa and City Gallery in Wellington; CoCA Centre for Contemporary Art and the Robert McDougall Gallery in Christchurch as well as the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Scott’s work is held in the collections of Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; Victoria University Art Collection, Wellington; the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and many other public and private collections in New Zealand.