Artist Profile

Arthur Dagley Investment Artist

Born 1919, Died 1998

Born in Hastings, Dagley lived in Tauranga almost his entire life. He was a professional signwriter.

Warwick Brown-

"More than once when his work has been critically reviewed, Dagley has been called the most underrated painter in New Zealand. Some of the reasons for this may be his lifetime residence in Tauranga, a city with no art gallery, his infrequent exhibitions in the main centres; the fact that he is self-taught, and his prolific output of minor as well as serious works.

Like Binney, Dagley has laid claim to his own part of the New Zealand environment – the Port of Tauranga. Dagley has had a lifetime fascination with shipping. He is not a celebrant of the open sea and the hardy mariner, but rather an observer of ships at rest in port. These paintings divide into two groups – the close-ups and those, which survey a scene from a distance, including aerial views. The latter relate closely to the many reliefs Dagley has made in metal and mixed media which indicate in semi-abstract form the oil tanks, docks, wharves and rail lines of a port as seen from above. Dagley's other port scenes are not the standard ones beloved by generations of realist painters. Some are unspecific, as if viewed through a fog, where forms loom and dissolve and hard edges of superstructures and masts cut through the murk.

Dagley looks for the possibilities for composition in the interplay of forms in the silhouettes of bows and sterns, the vertical masts and the diagonals of rigging and derricks. His most important paintings are undoubtedly his long-running series of studies inspired by ships' sides. Only when ships are berthed and one can walk alongside at the mid-deck level can the Duchampian, ready-made nature of areas of the steel plates be experienced. Dagley sees the abstract reliefs made when plates are perforated by portholes, rivets and doors; when they rust, are painted and repainted and have other plates and fittings welded onto them. As Cézanne sought the cone, cylinder and sphere in nature, Dagley seeks the abstract in the actual. At the same time he makes us aware of shapes and textures that we may pass by without noticing.

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