Oanui, Taranaki, 2 August 1991,
silver gelatin photograph
Sue Crockford Gallery, Auckland
Acquired from the above by the present owner on 26 July 2002
Laurence Aberhart has a vast photographic oeuvre filled with ethereal landscapes, mouldering monuments and gothic churches that share as their common theme the impermanence of being. The human figure is notably absent from his images, suggested only by the presence of the photographer himself.
Whether natural or urban, Aberhart's photographs dwell on ephemerality, either by dilating time through extended periods of long-exposure, or by capturing Mount Taranaki - a favourite subject - behind a cloud or a set of waves that is soon to vanish, never to be repeated. His love of Taranaki as a subject - and the region around the mountain on New Zealand's North Island more generally - is reminiscent of the almost spiritual place of Mount Fuji in Japanese art, faithfully recorded by ukiyo-e artists, or Cézanne’s lifelong study of Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Provencal countryside.
In 2015, Laurence Aberhart (b. 1949) held a solo exhibition ANZAC: Photographs by Laurence Aberhart, which toured New Zealand (and, in 2018, to Australia) commemorating the centenary of the First World War. In 2005, he received a show of selected works at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. In 2002, a major solo exhibition, Laurence Aberhart – Photographs, was held at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. GHOSTWRITING: Photographs of Macau, Macau Museum of Art. Select group shows featuring Aberhart include: Meditation on a Bone: Albert Tucker Beyond the Modern, curated by Glenn Barkley, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2018); An unorthodox flow of images, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2017); South of no North – Laurence Aberhart, William Eggleston, Noel McKenna, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2013), touring to New Zealand (2014); Joy before the Object, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2013); and Present History, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2013).
His work is held in all major New Zealand public collections as well as public and private collections around the world, including the Museum of Art, Macau, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. In Australia, his work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Laurence Aberhart is represented by Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney.