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Object: The scarred couch, the Auckland experience

This image has All Rights Reserved. Image © Courtesy of Rachel Power

Title The scarred couch, the Auckland experience
Production Clairmont, Philip (artist), 1978, Auckland
Medium summary oil and acrylic on hessian
Materials oil paint, acrylic paint, burlap
Classification paintings
Dimensions Image: 1590mm (Height) x 2760mm (Length)
Overall: 1635mm (Height) x 2818mm (Width) x 44mm (Depth)
Credit line Purchased 1978 with Ellen Eames Collection funds
Registration number 1978-0031-39

In this painting by Philip Clairmont, everyday domestic objects run amok. A couch becomes a wounded beast - its massive body convulsing, its fabric slashed open - while a naked light bulb casts a hallucinatory glow over the scene. Scarred Couch, the Auckland Experience is one of Clairmont's largest and most impressive paintings.

Domestic objects, interiors, self portraits
Clairmont often painted domestic objects and interiors. Eight of the thirteen works owned by Te Papa have titles such as Lampshade, Chair, and Window. He also painted several self-portraits. Scarred Couch has been described as a symbolic self-portrait, and the painting itself as a comment on Clairmont's experience of the Auckland art world.

Expressionism and protest
Clairmont's art was part of a resurgence of expressionist painting in the late 1970s and 1980s. Scarred Couch reflects the distortion, vivid colour, and exaggerated brushstrokes of German expressionism, which Clairmont studied while a student of Rudolf Gopas at the Canterbury College School of Art in the 1960s. A Lithuanian immigrant, Gopas worked in a style directly related to European expressionist traditions. While Scarred Couch is personal in its content, Clairmont put his expressionist style to work protesting against war, inequality, and hypocrisy. Other works address the Vietnam War and the 1981 Springbok rugby tour.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.