Make a big difference to The Big Idea.

Help us tell the most creative stories.

Become a supporter

Jack Trolove’s oil paintings ‘disappear and reappear’ at Pātaka

Jack Trolove, Untitled (detail),2022. Oil on linen. Courtesy of the artist
Jack Trolove working in his studio
Artist Jack Trolove is exhibiting his works with the gallery lights off to 'see what paintings do in the dark'.


Northland-based artist Jack Trolove use swathes of oil paint, in thick lumps and thin stretches, to create enormous faces that appear and recede simultaneously. Described as ‘a virtuoso manipulator of paint’, for his new exhibition, Thresholding, Jack will be showing his works with the gallery lights off. Successive lux levels will rise and fall to offer visitors a new experience – the artworks will be ‘felt’ before they are seen. Thresholding opens at Pātaka on 24 July and runs until 30 October.

Jack thinks of his large-scale, gestural paintings as ‘second skins for us to feel through’. Despite having spent hundreds of hours creating them, for this exhibition he’s turning the gallery lights off.

“Under modulated lighting – passing through dusk, midnight, and dawn – the paintings will disappear and reappear, wake and sleep,” Jack says.

When the lights hit full midday sun, the level of pigment saturation in the oil paint will be at its highest, showcasing the complex, luminous colour palette the artist is known for. As the light drops away, so does the pigment saturation and the viewer is left to read the afterimage in the dark with their other senses. As the lighting completes its modulating cycle over each painting, it will take time to fully experience the works. Jack suggests that this new body of work is a reprieve from the breakneck speed of social media, “It’s for the slow stories,” he says.

Jack explains that he used to think the visual arts were solely for looking at. But one night, when he’d just finished a suite of paintings for a show that had taken a year to complete, he re-entered his studio after dark. The large paintings were perched on blocks around the walls, curing. “I couldn’t sleep, so I wandered barefoot back into the studio. In the darkness, I had an incredible experience of feeling the paintings. As I turned my body in different directions, I could sense what the paintings felt like, rather than what they looked like.”

It took a few years for Jack to realise the concept that was seeded that night, but Pātaka liked his idea of showing paintings that are ‘felt first, then seen’. Jack has dedicated his show to ‘those who are fluent in threshold work – kaikaranga, keeners, midwives, palliative carers and therapists, to name a few’.

A programme of events will complement Thresholding, including artist talks. Award-winning theatre practitioner Madeline MacNamara will respond to the paintings with a performance and, coinciding with the Wellington Pride Festival, Jack will lead a panel of gender diverse creatives to discuss ‘trans ways of making’.

Jack Trolove: Thresholding
24 July–30 October 2022      
Pātaka: Art + Museum. FREE entry,


Further information: 

For more information: Rachel Healy, PUBLICIST  E:

Written by

Pataka: Art + Museum

11 May 2022