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Have fun and fail with confidence

Updated: Apr 12

Tāmaki Makaurau-born painter Reece King has been announced as the recipient of the first Church Road Art Initiative. He gives us an insight into his creative process, and tells us why making mistakes is the path to winning.

Run by Napier winery Church Road, the new prize aims to support the career of an emerging New Zealand artist. Reece was selected from an array talented artists for his keen sense of initiative and his clear enthusiasm for painting.

Reece completed his masters in Painting at Unitec in 2021, during which he co-founded Auckland based painter-run space, Sanc, which has continued to grow.

As part of the Church Road Art Initiative prize, Reece's winning work will be purchased and donated to the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust and kept in their collection. Reece was also asked to appear on a panel at design festival Semi Permanent, held in November 2023 in Wellington.

We caught up with Reece just before the festival began.

Reece King in his studio.

What is “home” for you?

TeHenga, Auckland Westcoast. A studio anywhere. Karangahape Road.

What does a typical day look like?

Coffee, paint, food, coffee, paint, food.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?


What materials are integral in your work?

My eyes.

LEFT: Reece King. The Sky Crown, 2022, Oil and enamel on canvas, 1600 x 1800mm RIGHT: Reece King. Fakamanaia, 2023. Oil and enamel on canvas, 1900 x 1450mm

What were you doing three hours ago?

Getting on a plane headed to Semi Permanent!

Describe your aesthetic in five words.

Here, There, Now, History, Future.

What's the most indispensable item in your studio? The studio space itself. I’m a studio artist, being able to make a mess and leave ideas to sit is vital for me.

Do you collect anything?

Paintings and art.

Reece King. Zoo Eyes. 2023.Oil and enamel on canvas.1650 x 1450mm

Describe your creative process.

Fuck it up for the first three quarters, then try resolve it for the last quarter. I like each painting to be different; a chance for a new discovery. I like painting – paintings not executing images. I look for character in the work – when they look back as a balanced, complete and unique presence that's when they are done.

What role does the artist have in society?

To be aware and open and create a space for people to process, in the unique way that art allows.

What themes do you pursue?

Culture and wonder.

Who are your biggest influences?

Everyone and everything influences me, but my friends are my biggest influence. We are always talking and jamming and pushing each other – they are always surprising and inspiring me.

Reece King's studio.

What’s the most memorable response you’ve had to your work?

“The painting language is through the roof!”

What's the last show/exhibition that surprised you and why?

Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. I'd gotten used to seeing Aboriginal art in images and on screens. Seeing the works in person was so much better, inspiring; the surface, the texture, the pigment, the richness, the smells.

LEFT: Reece King. Hull Buck, 2021, Acrylic enamel and graphite on canvas, 2000 x 1300mm RIGHT: Reece King. Stoke, 2022. Oil on canvas, 2000 x 1300mm

Money is no object. Which priceless artwork do you buy?

A Peter Hawkesby please.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to try?

Climb mountains and swim and eat and drink and look at art all around the world.

Where do you work and what do you like about it?

At my studio. I like that I can do whatever I want. And at my gallery (Sanc Gallery) I like that I can do whatever I want there too.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Have fun and fail with confidence.


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