Self Portrait

Rudi Gopas, Artist

This is one of the paintings in our collection. It was made in 1965. The place where it was made is unknown.
Image: 895 x 590mm
oil on hardboard
Rudi Gopas migrated to New Zealand with his wife after World War II. They first lived in Dunedin but chose to settle in Christchurch, where Gopas taught painting at the Canterbury University School of Fine Arts. His advocating of experimental and instinctual approaches to art made him a controversial figure in the Canterbury art scene. A proponent of German Expressionist Realism his paintings and art philosophy was bold, vibrant and concerned with the psychology and nuances of subject and form. In this self-portrait we see these interests in action. When an artist works within an established tradition, in an art form or style which has a clear and documented history, comparisons are inevitable. Archetypes are common, they help us create threads through time and place and aid us in connecting and understanding art. This work engages with the language, history and symbolic nature of portraiture. When he made this self-portrait Gopas was a mature man of 52, he is contemplative and has a confident and direct gaze, the act of smoking a pipe reinforces these attributes for the viewer and guides our understanding of the nature of the subject. Poised, as if he is moments away from putting paint to canvas, Gopas actively scrutinizes the viewer with his stare. Successful portraiture is contingent on the artist’s ability to understand and replicate the essence of a person. Gopas was not interested in creating an exact likeness of himself, but instead illuminating his spirit, the facets of his personality he felt were essential – art, knowledge and passion. Gopas’ fervent approach to painting influenced a generation of New Zealand artists, including Philip Clairmont, Philip Trusttum, Jeffrey Harris and Tony Fomison.
- from Chronicle article, March 2013, Sarah McClintock
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whangani. Purchased, 1981
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
20 May 1981


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