Born in Timaru in 1945, Roy Good studied at Ilam School of Fine Arts in Christchurch from 1963 – 1965 before moving to Auckland.
During the 1970s, he was one of a group of abstract artists, including Milan Mrkusich, Phillip O’Sullivan, Ian Scott, Geoff Thornley and Gordon Walters, who, spurred on by their far-sighted dealer Petar Vuletic, rejected more popular local subjects and styles and aspired to the difficult standards of international modernism. Good was subsequently part of the artist collective that established Gallery DATA in 1977 – a gallery that was devoted to abstract painting.
An enduring feature of Roy Good’s art is his use of shaped supports: multiple canvases or boards arranged to form a shape other than the conventional rectangle or, most often, a single canvas on a shaped stretcher. One of the first exponents of shaped canvases in New Zealand, a practice strongly associated with American abstraction of the 1960s, Good has employed shaped supports since the early 1970s.
Roy Good’s abstract paintings are minimalist in form, but carry a sublime painterly subtlety when viewed at close hand. Within panels of each work, the colours are intensely worked, although the surface is often pared back so that from a distance it appears smooth. His use of colours creates planes, which appear to advance and retreat against each other, although sometimes it is physical rather than illusion – he layers geometric forms so they literally project from the wall.
Good has been represented by Artis Gallery since 1985. In 2007 a retrospective exhibition of paintings spanning forty years was held at the Lopdell House Gallery in West Auckland.
In 2011 the Centre of Contemporary Art in Christchurch held its own retrospective exhibition, Triangles, Octagons and Lintels, which surveyed three seminal series of work from 1972 to 1974. The exhibition also included new works from 2003 to 2009 that were based on conceptual drawings from this earlier period.