Michael Dell: Distant Pictures

20 June - 25 July 2024
While I am layering materials and building up a depth of color, I am also thinking about the fall of light, by creating tonal gradations from the removal and replacement of the layers.

Ronewa Art Projects presents Distant Pictures – a solo exhibition, and European debut, by New Zealand artist Michael Dell. Taking culturally significant and critically acclaimed films from New Zealand contemporary cinema as a thematic basis for a series of abstract paintings and drawings, Dell creates alluring color gradients with delicately blended palettes and that are rich with subtle textures and details.


Dell’s approach to art making is led by process and a commitment to materiality, whether he’s creating abstract or representational work. His softened, almost hazy imagery is the result of the numerous applications of layers, which are added and removed over and over.

Despite the association with storytelling, the works in this show contain an ambivalence toward narrative, conveying instead an intense and absorbing stillness. The colors of Dell’s abstract gradients reference shots from the opening sequences of his chosen films. He also draws inspiration from physical elements of cinema, such as the image frame, the light of the projector beam, and imperfections that appear on celluloid film.

Dell was born in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has exhibited solo shows widely within New Zealand and was selected for the touring group exhibition ‘Print and Paper’ that traveled to Kurashiki, Japan. In 2020, the Nelson public art museum The Suter Art Gallery held a solo exhibition of Dell’s recent paintings and drawings. His works are held in public art collections throughout New Zealand, including The Christchurch City Art Gallery, Waikato Museum of Art and History, The Suter Art Gallery, and in the Auckland University Art Collection. Dell is the recipient of several national art awards, most recently winning the 2019 Parkin Drawing Prize.