Dick Frizzell, born Auckland New Zealand is one of New Zealand most loved, sought after and recognized, senior artists. A New Zealand icon, painter, printmaker, Renaissance man, and all round design ‘aficionado’, His artworks have become some of New Zealand’s most well known images; from his 4 Square local grocer, to the controversial but also best loved work, “Mickey to Tiki, Tu Meke”.
Born in 1943, Frizzell first studied at University of Canterbury gaining a Bachelor in Fine Arts in 1968. It was then that he worked in advertising and here that Frizzell began transferring household or everyday items into images that were re invented to capture the eye. After fifteen years in this industry, Frizzell then went on to teach Fine Arts at Elam Arts School in Auckland. He began painting full time in the 1990’s and in 1997 held a retrospective exhibition of his works called “Dick Frizzell: Portrait of a Serious Artiste”. This was toured to major national institutions.
His works are held in all New Zealand major public, corporate and private collections and he has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand.
He ingeniously takes the Disney image of Mickey Mouse and over a line of painted heads, morphs them into to an image of a Maori tiki. These and many of his other well known images have shown Frizzell mixing ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, cultural icons and comic characters; all the while challenging the viewer to question these labels and ideas and provoke discussion, piqué interest as well as pleasing the aesthetic palette. Frizzell dislikes the opacity of high art saying, “in my experience being transparent has always worked for me…it’s easy to fall prey to those notions of purity and the rest of it”.
Known to work prolifically, Frizzell’s medium, style and subject matter changes with each art piece and it is only those that know his work closely, that can quickly identify his eclectic and stylish aptitude within each style. Mainly known as a painter, Frizzell also uses screen-printing and lithography to create his artworks.
From his large New Zealand landscapes, (where the landscape is subtly altered by Frizzell to satisfy his design framework), to his beloved comic like prints, to the large paintings of roadside Kiwi handwritten signs or to the large paintings of poems by Sam Hunt, or even in his still life’s, Frizzell covers so many cultural signifiers with humour and aplomb.
Frizzell is the author of two books: ‘Dick Frizzell: The Painter (2009) and “It’s all about the Image” Frizzell, (2012).