Born in Auckland in 1935, Warren Viscoe trained as a builder before studying in London at Chelsea College of Art, and then the Ontario College of Art in Canada. He returned to New Zealand in 1962 and graduated with a Diploma of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Art in 1965.
One could not merely describe Viscoe as a sculptor, for the works he creates bring together readymade objects, such as coins and tree branches, as well as hand-sculpted wood, to create powerful assemblages that explore man’s interaction with the natural world. Using natural and recycled materials, Viscoe is conscious of the vitality of his materials and embraces any blotches or defects, such as rusting nail-holes or spreading lichen. Rather than being faults, they are transformed into embellishments that reinforce his themes.
Viscoe’s use of disparate materials reveal his skills in carving as well as joining, bolting and binding. Often mixing wry humour in with his works, Viscoe always manages to create powerful pieces that possess a sense of monumentality but remain fluid and capable of movement, despite their heavy medium. This paradoxical element to his work extends to the messages he tries to convey through his sculptures, often drawing the viewer into a false sense of security regarding his intentions and then upsetting their initial confidence.
An accomplished sculptor, Viscoe’s work is widely respected throughout New Zealand for its quiet intensity and inviting tactile textures. His work has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions and his sculptures are in many New Zealand art collections, including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland City Art Gallery and the Dowse Art Museum.