The art of a relationship

Massey’s graduate show Exposure, which concluded at the end of last year, had more painters than ever. ArtZone spoke with two of them: Ruby Moana Wilkinson and Christian Dimick, about why the medium is back in vogue with young artists and how they'll navigate the art world.


Christian and Ruby, by Ella Peacock

Ruby Moana Wilkinson and Christian Dimick are two Wellington graduate painters . While many fine arts graduates will go on to creative careers, few will continue to make and show art on a regular basis, but they remain resolute.


“We’ve tried to do things outside of university,” Christian says, referring to the gallery shows in 2021 which preceded their graduation. One of which was (From) Side to Side at Meanwhile Gallery in May last year: “It revolved around our relationship,” Ruby says. “Our relationship had such a big impact on that show and the works in it.” And their romantic relationship plays a key role, not just in their art, but in their confidence as artists. “We both really wanted to show outside of uni,” says Christian. “But were both too scared to submit a proposal solo, so we did it together.”


Ruby Wilkinson, "Plates!" pastel, oil paint on linen, 2021

Translating memories, moreover the act of remembering, form a significant artistic motivation. “The application of the paint, how that’s a transcription of a certain memory: it’s something we’ve both been really interested in,” Christian says. He paints cold, abstract colour fields – in the foreground are hints of childlike scribble, like a flicker of memory. Ruby’s contain smears of blood red and russet, while her subjects hint at constructed objects, e.g. dinner plates, chairs. The result is an emotive contrast of spontaneity and arrangement.


“While you’re painting you could be thinking about a situation, but you’re also thinking about how you’re painting, in that moment,” Ruby says. “People are backtracking from this digital world and engaging with painting a little bit more, and with very different kinds of painting.” She certainly has a point: Exposure 2021 had the highest number of graduating painters in recent memory.


Christian Dimick "Slats (Safety Net)" acrylic paint, pastel, enamel paint, 2021

“We have to think of things ahead of time, into the future, especially with covid,” says Christian “Painting is the opposite of that: you just have to be there when you’re painting and that’s kind of it – maybe younger people are coming back to it because we’re so sick of looking so far forward.”