Rob Tucker Series

Rob Tucker Series with York Gallery NZ

Get know New Zealand artist renowned internationally Rob Tucker...

1) What inspires you? 

I was initially inspired by urban weathered spaces, often tired & overlooked. I liked to glorify their imperfections and character in my work and focus on geometry, colour and composition. 

I am now inspired by still lifes, drawn from classical traditions of subject matter, portrait, and allegorical narrative painting - but filtered through with my coarse brushwork, bold contours and semi-abstraction.

2) What are you currently working on?

I am currently developing my still life series, working on breaking the subject matter down to a state of semi-abstraction. My goal is to purify my artistic intention - slowly removing the subject, to focus on the painterly application and the emotion it yields. 

3) How did you first get into the art world? 

I started experimenting with art at a young age. I've had no formal fine arts training, which has been an advantage point for me as it has allowed me to explore autonomously without overarching constraints or trained guidance. I started with an abstract approach, often using an accumulation of household materials as my painting utensils. 

I continued to experiment and develop my subject to become more considered and stylistically driven. People took interest in my work and I fortunately received almost immediate attention – both from the community and galleries.

4) Do you use oil or acrylic and why? 

I use both. As my works are process-based, made up of several layers of purposeful mistakes, I use a lot of different materials along the way. My initial layers are navigated with acrylic and oil pastels, mapping out the subject. Built-up and deconstructed, layer over layer. Then I apply oil paint to refine, create more depth and bring out the vibrancy. 

5) What risks have you taken to get where you are now?

The pursuit of art is a massive risk in itself but to be honest, the biggest risk for me has been being vulnerable enough to show my work because I’ve always been a bit apprehensive, sorta shy. All creative industries have risk, unchartered territories and no certain path to success. This needs to be forged by the individual. I’m attracted to this risk, risk is a huge component when I tackle a new painting as I truly have no idea how it will turn out - I love this spontaneity and the thrill of uncovering something hopefully magic within this process. 

6) Have you been influenced by any other artists? 

Absolutely, there are many! I connect strongly with Philip Guston’s ideology and practice, and when I read further about his process I really resonated with his intention. He once said: "The painting is not on a surface, but on a plane which is imagined. It moves in a mind. It is not there physically at all. It is an illusion, a piece of magic, so that what you see is not what you see”.

I think it’s really important for creatives to keep looking at fellow artists, borrowing ideologies and feelings along the way. Here they can draw upon new inspiration and ideas, to channel into their own practice. Be open to accidents, they may be a new direction. 

7) How would you describe your style & process?

I look to capture my subject matter in a naive and raw manner - built through heavy-handed mark-making and expressive painterly application. 

Mark making, to me, is a tangible portrayal of instinct – a way to illustrate a feeling without literal reference. Here I can lose myself in an act of the instinctual, via subconscious application to create something of pure freedom.

I predominately work with paint, which in my application plays a strong sculptural role – constructing and deconstructing the layers. Although I do paint still life, accurately depicting subject matter has never been my focus. It’s just a vehicle for me to explore mark-making in an expressive and somewhat imaginary cartoon-like approach.

8) When you aren't painting, do you miss it?

Yes, it’s been a passion I’ve been pursuing for a long time now and it’s a natural creative outlet for me to express. I love the solitude and the calm of my studio, a spiritual realm in which I can be in tune with my inner self and figure things out. 

 9) What is your favourite motif within your past works ? 

My initial work was very much drawn from weathered billboards and neglected posters. I saw a strange beauty in the forgotten and derelict, which I took heavy reference in one of my first exhibitions: A trip through Belmont. 

I continue to play with common motifs in my work, but they are just a vehicle to express my process, and help me create joyful paintings that transcend to the masses. I want my works to connect emotionally with a wide audience, so my motifs tend to be ones that are commonly known. 

10) When did you find your chosen style of artwork?

I think I really landed on my voice and intention through one of my first real exhibitions when I was 19,  A trip through Belmont. Here I focused on mark-making, expression and colour - all as a vehicle to draw an emotion from the viewer. This was the start of a long journey and the beginning of a style that will never stop developing. 

If you have any questions or would like more information on Rub Tucker, email York Gallery NZ, (