DRIVER, Don

Nationality: New Zealand
Website: Website
New Zealand artist
Born in Hastings 1930
Died on 8 December 2011 in New Plymouth

Don Driver is a collector, a collector of visual experience. Looking through his eyes is seeing novelty at every turn. He is in a constant process of generating combinations. By their own merit and in their revelatory novelty his assemblages have met with substantial critical acclaim. These assemblages frequently take the technical form of collage. For Driver collage is not only a primary technique, it is also an ideal to be upheld. He treasures each separate component of his experience of the world, then collates them.

Once in a while such a combination will be more than “just” a collage, achieving such a purity of union – of form, composition and content – as to resonate with echoes of something deeper ... a universal mythology?

Who knows? Driver has successfully confounded critics and public. On the one hand there is his vision, his wonder at and aesthetic appreciation of surfaces and objects in a myriad combinations: on the other, suddenly, a combination of objects or figures which are a single-minded expression of a deeper and more pervasive tension (e.g. Ritual 1982), the creation of a work that is metaphysical in content. Artist’s prerogative!

The fact that Driver has brought himself to do graphic work is in itself significant. The transition into the more craft-oriented graphic medium has posed a challenge. His other work has been characterised by a lack of what is normally considered the craft of art, the traditional skills of painting and drawing. Instead Driver has concentrated on forms such as collage and skilful assemblages of found and ready-made objects. In Driver’s hands virtually any object turns into and goes unchallenged as art.

In his “Youth Prints” and a number of other lithographs done at Muka he has retained collage as a principal technique. Technically the works are a prime example of cooperation between artist and master printer. Driver’s “Youth Prints” titled Rhythm of Life consist of cut and torn pieces of coloured paper which have been brought together and transferred onto the stone.

At first the combination appears to be random; given time a figure is to be discerned. Rhythm of Life is a game of “now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t”. The figure’s head and trunk are figurative hearts of contrasting metallic colours positioned at angles to one another. Body/heart and mind/heart juxtaposed. In one print the head is silver and the body gold; this is reversed in another. Which is the golden heart? Then you find written on the side: “Love U”.