Auckland Art Fair is a highlight of the New Zealand arts calendar. With 40 galleries from the Asia-Pacific region involved and the work of more than 150 artists on offer, it is a wonderful way to experience the breadth and diversity of our creative culture under one roof. Side by side are pieces by early-career artists next to works by our most celebrated contemporary practitioners, with prices ranging from $5000 to six figures. 

The questions everyone wants the answers to are “what’s good and what’s not?”, “who’s an interesting artist to look at?” and, of course, “which artists look to have a good career ahead of them?”. With a plethora of art, from figurative to abstraction and accessible to high end, hung in close quarters, the art fair can be a dizzying information overload.

This year’s fair, more than ever, is putting young and emerging artists front and centre, helping audiences to familiarise themselves with the next generation of artists and to unpackage the ideas behind some great emerging talent.

‘Projects’ is a non-profit exhibition where ‘interventions’ by emerging artists will be presented as an alternative model to commercial exchange. If you turn up at the right time and place, the artists will be gifting or trading unlimited-edition works. This will be a great insight into early-career artists who otherwise could not exhibit at the fair.

‘In Residence’ is a new initiative for the 2021 fair and provides an opportunity for artist-run spaces to exhibit. Mothermother is a project that weaves emerging and established female artists, bringing them together to foster connections within the wider art community.

Teresa Peters - Echo Bone series detail, 2020 from the Mothermother project.

Within the gallery booths, and alongside our best-known mid-career and established artists, there will be a great offering of works by younger artists at accessible prices.

The Sumer gallery (Tauranga) will be showing the work of Raukura Turei (Ngātitai ki Tāmaki [Tainui], Ngā Rauru Kītahi). Her paintings are sensitive abstractions which speak to the light before the dawn, colourfield paintings with dot-like marks that flow across the surface, which are at once undulating land and also bodyscapes – embodying te ao Māori. Turei will present new paintings from 2020-21 that extend her practice into a darker, more emotionally challenged direction. She uses onepū, the black ironsands of Auckland’s west coast, in a shimmery, sparkling, surging mediation. Her paintings are priced between $4000 and $12,000. 

Raukura Turei - He Tukuna III, 2020.


{Suite Gallery} will show the work of Tia Ansell, a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based artist who makes intricately patterned weaving-paintings that reference the grids and geometries in our urban landscapes. Ansell’s practice blurs the traditional boundary between craft and fine art, investigates ideas of what a painted surface can be, and asks the viewer to consider, or reconsider, the concept of the handmade. 

At only 26 years old, Ansell has already achieved considerable recognition for her work in Australia, having won prestigious awards and received scholarships and prizes. Her last two exhibitions in Australia sold out; some works went into regional gallery collections. Priced at $2000 and $5000, her works at the fair will likely sell fast, but she is a young artist with a rigorous practice, so certainly there’ll be more to come. 

Tia Ansell - Andrew, 2020.

Oliver Roake, represented by FHE Gallery, has created turned-timber sculptural works that depict the sound waves of recordings taken on both sides of the Manukau Harbour. The spiral patterns embody a sense of time that is continuous and coiled around itself, overlapping the concentric waves produced by the memory of sound. His works are priced between $7000 and $20,000. 

Gary McMillan, represented by Fox Jensen McCrory, creates small yet cinematic paintings that are set amid our everyday environment. McMillan is a pointillist who atomises the picture plane into new, agitated molecular arrangements. He has had a long obsession with science fiction and film noir and the paintings leverage aspects of this symbolism and theatre of their cinematography. The intense drama of those genres comes through in his images of urbanscapes – abandoned turnpikes, tank farms and half-finished structures. Original paintings are priced under $10,000.

Gary McMillan - Scene 47, 2020.


If you have a little more in the kitty and appreciate colourfield abstraction, take a close look at Tomislav Nikolic at Fox Jensen McCrory. By applying multiple layers of paint, Nikolic builds up a density and a body to his colour. He blends marble dust with his paints, giving the surface the quality of both opacity and translucency. The frames he selects are integral, creating dynamic chromatic juxtapositions and structural mass. Small works by Nikolic are available for $10,000 but larger works are priced at around $50,000 to $80,000.

Jude Rae has produced an exceptional body of paintings for an exhibition at Two Rooms gallery and the art fair. Rae’s still-life works combine gas bottles and fire-hydrant taps with more typical still-life elements – flowers, foliage in vases and vintage vessels. Her art examines the relationship between subject and audience and the status and meaning of the still-life genre in European history. Her works are priced from $25,000 to $55,000.

The Auckland Art Fair at The Cloud on Queens Wharf opens on Wednesday, Feb 24 (VIP preview day and opening night), and runs daily until Sunday, Feb 28.