Mussorgorsky, music and myself : a solo exhibition by Philip Trusttum: A solo exhibition by Philip Trusttum

2 June - 21 August 2023

His vibrant, always changing, style places him somewhat outside current fashions and has at times consigned Trusttum to the byways of New Zealand art history, a discourse formerly driven by cultural nationalism and now in thrall to opaque versions of postmodern theory that has been underwhelmed by expressive accounts of the personal.

We are delighted to extend our warmest invitation to you for Philip Trusttum's inaugural solo exhibition in Belgium, where he stands as one of New Zealand's most esteemed living artists. Spanning from the early 1960s to the present, Trusttum's illustrious career has been nurtured within the walls of his centrally located studio in Christchurch. His vibrant and ever-evolving style gracefully defies the current artistic trends, at times positioning him on the periphery of New Zealand's art history. Previously driven by cultural nationalism, this discourse has now been captivated by obscure interpretations of postmodern theory, inadvertently undervaluing the profound expressiveness of personal narratives. Trusttum's extensive years of creative activity outshine the relatively young art history of New Zealand, leaving an indelible imprint on the development of (neo)-expressionism, street art, and figurative painting within the country.


Mussorgorsky: Music and Myself encapsulates Trusttum's artistic journey, uniting his highly accomplished series inspired by Mussorgorsky's "Pictures at the Exhibition" sonata with his latest personal works. The exhibition predominantly features the artist himself, adorned with masks or engrossed in capturing self-portraits. Music serves as the ethereal bridge between these two realms, influencing Trusttum's artistic expression in both form and content. The artworks come alive, flowing with vivid colors and dynamic movements, resonating with the same energy, form, line, rhythm, texture, and balance found within music itself. Trusttum masterfully weaves connections between colors and musical textures, breathing life into his compositions.


While Trusttum now stands in his 80s, the overarching aesthetic of his creations embodies a youthful and somewhat rebellious spirit. Every stroke of his brush reflects the essence of Philip's being, ignited by music and culminating in a mesmerizing "choreography" of lines, patterns, and colors. His body of work mirrors the art of sampling, as Trusttum draws inspiration from the diverse tapestry of cultures spanning the globe. His art pays homage to a breathtaking array of influences, ranging from Medieval illuminated manuscripts to modern art movements, and from the motifs found in African architecture to the captivating aesthetics of Japanese woodblock prints.


In the era of the ubiquitous selfie, we have all become intimately acquainted with the arduous and relentless pursuit of crafting our own images, as well as the voyeuristic consumption of others' self-portrayals. Trusttum's art transcends mere perspective, evoking a profound sense of movement as his works grace the gallery walls. Bold and tactile, they captivate viewers, offering a sense of playful familiarity while simultaneously confronting our society's voyeuristic tendencies. In one particular piece, we witness Trusttum's unflinching gaze upon his own aging visage, an introspective exploration of the passage of time while remaining totally in tune with what is happening around him.