Ruth Cleland’s painting practice is one that merges hyperrealism with the abstract. Her works often depict common workaday surfaces—e.g. bitumen, concrete, vinyl, carpet. All decidedly ordinary things which seldom hold our attention for any more than an instant. And so it seems almost antithetical for such things to hold centre stage in an artist’s work; being so perfunctory, so decidedly utilitarian, lacking in any apparent glamour or class. And yet here they are, as paintings, and there is something altogether surprising and illuminating because of this. Through their careful rendering, these modest (no)things attain a sense of spectacle and beauty, not only in their appearance but also in their objecthood, in the evidence of the artist’s toil, her investment of energy and time.



Ruth Cleland (born 1976, Kirikiriroa Hamilton) currently lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1998 and a Master of Fine Arts (with distinction) in 2002 from the Dunedin School of Art, specialising in printmaking. Cleland has exhibited nationally and internationally in private galleries as well as public art institutions and has won several awards, including the Park Lane Wallace Trust Development Award (2008) and the NZ Painting and Printmaking Award (2003).