Graham Kirk

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About Graham Kirk


Hawera born Graham Kirk has long enjoyed national and international success with his stunning Superheroes In New Zealand works. His finely painted landscapes are enlivened by the inclusion of fabulously rendered characters such as Superman, Wonderwoman, Catwoman, Batman and other action heroes from the famous American DC Comics from the late 1930s.

Following his 1988 exhibition of panels at New Plymouth's Govett Brewster Gallery, the artist began working on a larger scale and with acrylics. These developments coincided with a decision to do a series of paintings of his home town Hawera. It seemed that 'something else was needed' and it turned out to be Superman. With Superman & the Hawera Water Tower followed by Batman & the Catholic Church the Superheroes in New Zealand series was launched. A gifted photographer Kirk takes preparatory studies as reference for his paintings. The unique stipple effect in his work is achieved by applying paint with cottonwool buds. Kirk has exhibiting widely throughout New Zealand and at San Francisco's Bedford Gallery. His work is delivered worldwide.

In May and June of 2007 I spent six weeks travelling and photographing in the UK. The outcome was an exhibition of paintings; "Superheroes in the UK" at the Walrus Gallery in Wellington. These images are now available as A2 sized archival prints.

In 2016 I was invited to participate in the exhibition " My Hero" - Contemporary Art and Superhero Action, curated by The Bedford Gallery in San Francisco. I attended the opening and stayed on for a month taking photographs.

I've never wanted to be a painter in the traditional sense, working from sketches or painting from life. I've always preferred the immediacy of the snapshot image, and there has always been something about the photographic 'truth' that appeals to me.

1948 Born in Hawera, New Zealand

1957 Began making home-made comic books.

1968/69 Living in London. Taking colour transparencies with first camera and doing some drawing.

1973 Took first 35mm black & white photos during 6 week trip to Israel.

1974 Exhibited in various group shows in Auckland. Included in "The Active Eye", an exhibition of contemporary N.Z. photography organised by the Manawatu Art Gallery.

1975 Portfolio of photos published in Photo Forum magazine.

1976/77 Participated in various group shows.

1977 Co-exhibited with Paul Hewson at Snaps Gallery, Auckland

1978 Began "Dick Sargeson" comic strip.

1981 Returned to Taranaki. Exhibited at "Renonsense" (exhibition organised by Taranaki Artists Co-operative).

1983 Began "Dioxin Man" comic strip, inspired by IWD chemical leak at New Plymouth.

1984 Dick Sargeson comic strip begins running in The Listener.

1985 Exhibition at Words and Pictures Gallery, Auckland. Panels from comic. Two works selected for the 24th World Exhibition of Comics, Belgium.

1986 New Dick Sargeson story begins in Listener. Exhibition with Ces Hill at King St Gallery, New Plymouth. Panels from comic. Commissioned to illustrate Barry Crump Book: Bastards I Have Met.

1987 Change of direction toward painting for exhibition. Link with comic form still strong.

1988 Exhibition of Dick Sargeson panels at Govett Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth.

1989 Exhibition at Gallery Seventy Nine, Hawera.

1990 Exhibition at Words and Pictures Gallery, Auckland. Exhibition at Gallery Seventy Nine, Hawera. "Kirk Work" exhibition at Kudos Gallery, Wellington.

1991 "Superheroes in Wellington" exhibition at Kudos Gallery.

1992 "Superheroes in Auckland" exhibition at Oedipus Rex Gallery, Auckland.

1994 "Superheroes in Dunedin" exhibition at Dunedin Public Gallery. "New Work" exhibition at Oedipus Rex Gallery, Auckland.

1995 Work in "Elvis in Geyserland" exhibition at Rotorua Art History Museum. Work in "About Town" exhibition (images of Christchurch), Robert McDougall Gallery, Christchurch."Kirk Work" exhibition at Wonton Gallery, Wellington.

1996 "Icons and Artifacts" exhibition with Wayne Morris at Art Gallery, New Plymouth. Eight Taranaki Artists exhibition at Govett Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth.

1997 "Two Real" exhibition with Kees Bruin at Robert McDougall Gallery, Christchurch.

1998 Artistamps International, Barraca Vorticista, Buenos Aires, Argentina (via Internet).

1999 "Kirk Work" exhibition. Paintings and lithographs. Muka Gallery, Auckland. Waiouru War Museum: "Maadi and Beyond" Paintings by Graham Kirk from the Photographs of Jock Kirk. Taranaki Museum: "Kirk Work" exhibition.

2000 Auckland City Gallery: "The Cartoon Show" (two works).

2002 "Kirk Work" exhibition, Portfolio Gallery, Auckland.

2002 "Kirk Work" exhibition, Victoria Henwood Gallery, New Plymouth.

2004 "Superheroes in Auckland" Letham Gallery, Auckland.

2004 "New Paintings" Letham Gallery, Auckland.

2006 "New Paintings" Walrus Gallery, Wellington.

2007 "Kirk Work" Kina Gallery, New Plymouth.

2007 May - June. Photographic trip to the UK. Started producing inkjet, archival prints from scans of photos of selected works.

2007 "Paintings & Prints" Letham Gallery, Ponsonby, Auckland.

2008 "Superheroes in the UK" Walrus Gallery, Wellington.

2008 "Superheroes in Taranaki and the UK" Kina Gallery, New Plymouth.

2010 "Kirk and Carter" Kina Gallery, New Plymouth.

2011 Three works in "Renegade" exhibition, Puke Ariki, New Plymouth.

2011 "Kirk Work" Paintings by Graham Kirk & prints by Glenda Kirk, Kina Gallery, New Plymouth.

2012 Organised and contributed to "FRACKED", an exhibition by Taranaki artists at the Village Gallery in Eltham.

2013 "The Living Room" - five paintings. Pop Up Show, New Plymouth.

2016 "My Hero:" - four works. Contemporary Art and Superhero Action. Curated by the Bedford Gallery, San Francisco. Opening at the Bedford January 14th to March 20th and then touring the U.S. For three years to early 2019. Attended opening and stayed on in San Francisco for a month taking photographs.