Jack Trolove needs space. That becomes obvious the moment you encounter the large portrait-in-progress on the wall of his Shelly Bay studio, along with a well-worn path of footprints leading several metres back from the canvas (“my father calls it a sheep track,” he jokes).
Trolove’s paintings also need space, because they work from two perspectives: close-up abstract and far-view realism. To illustrate this effect, Trolove mentions a guy who attended one of his exhibitions; he glanced at each painting he passed and then did a double-take when he saw them all again from a distance.
The intensely emotional portraits, painted with vivid acrylics spread across canvas with palette knives, are a stark contrast to Trolove’s chilled-out, friendly personality and also his studio: a wide, white-walled space that used to be part of the air force mess (there are still old cutlery drawers, as well as a communal serving area). The west-facing windows show the sea, creating the impression that one could simply leap into the ocean at a moment’s notice. It’s a place of emotional and historical connections for Trolove, whose grandfather was an airforce pilot and lived in Shelly Bay.
Trolove graduated with an MFA from Massey University and his work is lauded locally and internationally (he was shortlisted to exhibit in London’s National Portrait gallery, and has been a two-time finalist for the Wallace Art Awards) . He’s also had many solo shows in NZ, Australia, and Spain, but it’s been a road filled with hard work – including an all-night painting session on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas several years ago, with no bed and just five Euros to his name.
Formerly a digital artist, Trolove now appreciates the physical and intimate qualities of painting by hand. “I feel like I’m touching someone’s face… it’s the closest I can get to creating without giving birth!”