Sam Foley

From Dunedin New Zealand, Foley exhibits internationally, with works placed in a number of public and private collections. Over the last decade he has been a regular visitor to Europe, basing himself between Dunedin and Berlin, exhibiting throughout Europe and Scandinavia. In 2013 he was the recipient of the Kaipara Foundation Wallace Arts Trust Award which included a 4 month residency at the cultural centre Altes Spital in Solothurn Switzerland.

'Most recently, moving image and how the two mediums of painting and digital projection can be combined in to a singular medium has been a focus. Creating ‘moving image paintings’ which shift and change, using light and texture in a complex way, a simulacrum of a simulacrum which still retains the integrity of time and place. It moves with incident and creates memory’

The urban landscape as a subject; the man-made and it’s encroachment into an environment. Line opposed to curve, the nature of chaos vs conformity, the myriad variations between absolute light and terminal dark are my constant companions.'

Foley was part of the Nomadic Art Gallery's digital exhibition "Alienation". Contextualisation of Sam Foley's work within the exhibition theme: 

"Dunedin based Sam Foley’s skillfully executed photographic paintings explore darkness in all its various landscapes. For our online exhibition we chose a painting, one that on demand can perpetually move into nowhere,  for a more alienating, confronting setting.


Although there is nothing beautiful about the concrete jungle of which the bridge is its symbol, there is definitely a sense of melancholic serenity and comforting certainty about people going here and there. Before the Covid-19 pandemic this buzz almost never stopped but now, without intending it to be, Foley’s paintings seem relics of the Covid-past. In his paintings, of course, there is much more at work than generalization, which is why we propose to let the master artist speak:

"It is night. The path before me stretches down, and with a weight bearing on my shoulders I follow its course with staggered steps. The sienna glow of street light filtered through leaf and branch obscures, yet points the way. I follow the path. It is all I can do.

I still remember the dream, the day I chose to act it out on canvas and my practice took a darker turn. It was cathartic. At the time I was going through a serious relationship breakdown and it hurt. The dream felt very connected and the motivation was painting as exorcism. I have never looked back.

Revelation. Up until that point, and with hindsight’s benefit it’s obvious, I had been searching for a subject, a subject I could really sink into. (…)


Until then I had been using oil paint almost like a water-colourist, applying very thin layers, emulating a photograph with fine coats of colour over a white background. When forced to describe areas of deep shadow, through the winding roads and laneways of the streetlamp-lit green belt, texture became my companion. Impasto. Thick layers of dark paint that reflect and shimmer, perpetually changing as day gives way to night.This was the way back to the light.” 

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