Julian Dashper

Julian Dashper

Many people at Te Papa were saddened to learn of the death this morning of Julian Dashper. Julian had suffered serious illness over the past few years. He fought cheerfully and bravely, all the while continuing to make and exhibit new work. Our deepest sympathies go out to Julian’s family.

Julian Dashper, Purple Rain at Glorit, 1986

Julian’s wonderful painting Purple Rain at Glorit is currently on show in Toi Te Papa. It has to be one of the most popular works in the contemporary part of the exhibition.

Describing those rich painterly abstracts, Julian later remarked that ‘they were all made by holding the tube and squeezing it. So I never touched or embraced the painting. I could have made them wearing three piece suits. They were like lies in terms of artistic expression or angst.’

Julian always had great lines. Another of my favourite quotes related to this work, Mural for a Contemporary House: ‘People say my paintings are deep in the way they say that fat people are heavy.’ I was never sure exactly what he meant, but always thought it was hilarious.

Julian Dashper, Untitled (1996), 1996
Julian Dashper, Untitled (1996), 1996

A selection of Julian’s works were recently shown in the contemporary focus section of Toi Te Papa. His drumskins, striped canvases and stretchers looked fantastic next to works by Milan Mrkusich and Don Driver. Julian’s work loved company.

In September last year, Julian spoke at a symposium we had in conjunction with the Rita Angus exhibition, joining a panel discussion with Seraphine Pick and Robin White. As an artist, Julian had carried on a conversation with Angus’s Cass for twenty years.

Julian was his usual delightful self that day, pointing out all the love in the room for Angus’s work and suggesting that the exhibition was like our Woodstock.

Rita Angus: Life & Vision opens tomorrow night at Auckland Art Gallery. Like many people, Julian, I’ll look at works like Cass, AD 1968, and this strange little abstract, and be thinking of you. There’ll be a lot of love in the room.


  1. We’ll sadly missed Julian and his great arts.
    Thanks for the post on Julian.

  2. William, thank you very much for the profile on Julian. He was someone who I knew and respected very much. He and I last worked together some years ago on an exhibition here in the States, and it just occurs to me now that I had not heard from him in some time. You cannot imagine my shock and sorrow of learning about this. My thoughts are with Marie and Leo. What a funny, insightful, giving and charming person, and what a loss.

  3. I didn’t see Julian often enough, being in different cities, but when we met he always brought fresh air with him, a positive demeanor, and a touch of Texas. I’m deeply saddened that we won’t meet again. His openness and enthusiasm for art and for people will be missed in this world that so desperately needs good people. His loss leaves a gaping space. I appreciated Williams’s words and his capturing Julian’s incisive quirkiness that permeates his work. My thoughts are of Julian, his intelligent and generous spirit and the times we spent together talking about so many things, a privilege to have shared, and of Marie, who hopefully is drawing strength from the love of family and friends.

  4. Thanks for this tribute William.
    I feel like I’ve got a dozen of my own going around in my head all day at the moment – I feel like there are so many important things to say…but ultimately we have all have shared interesting ideas, special stories and jokes with Julian, and that keeps his presence near.

    He just went too soon, having so much more to share with the world. In a professional capacity this is evidenced in his prolific artistic output these last few years, even when he was really ill.

    Julian was a very intelligent man, but not at all precious with it. That and his openness and generosity made him the most amazing teacher. He was often quite renegade, teaching us to teach each other and disregard the status quo. As soon as we graduated, treated us as his colleagues, not former students.

    One thing about life and art I learnt from Julian that I remember everyday is how to respect people. It seemed that Julian treated everyone like the most important person in the room… he had time for everyone, regardless of their station. It seems simple but Julian always introduced people…!

    Even though we’ve lived in different cities for a while, I feel the world is changed these last few days without him. I’m very sad and feel for Marie and Leo and hope they are surrounded with love.
    I’m so glad I was able to know Julian. I know he rests in peace – I hope with texan cowboy boots on!
    love Paula

  5. So shocked to hear this today, out of the blue as I have been out of touch a while. Julian has been a huge influence in my life, and I’m so grateful for all he showed and taught me. Always so generous and supportive.
    All our love and thoughts Marie and Leo,
    Jason, Maria, Isabella and Beatrix.
    Goodbye Julian, thankyou.

  6. I know people were thinking of Julian last night at the Rita Angus opening – his ideas and energy for art has left a permanent and telling presence on New Zealand art and far beyond these shores. Lots of love to the family.

  7. The warmth of comments over the past two days, here and in many other places, is I think testament to the way in which Julian touched so many peoples lives. There will be many many more tributes over the days and weeks ahead.

    Marie, our hearts go out to you and Leo.

  8. We ‘ll miss him here in Versailles, France.
    I thank him so much for being such a great inspiration.

  9. William, it is lovely to read your post on Julian, and everyone’s comments. There’s so much love out there for him, and we have certainly seen it in the last few difficult weeks. Julian died surrounded by this love. Thanks to all his friends.

  10. Goodbye Julian. Thanks for your friendship and great art. Reg and I will work hard at getting something of yours into the Art Gallery of NSW.
    Michael H

  11. He sought me out when I did my internship at the Guggenheim. He wrote me every couple of days about the summer in New Zealand I was missing, He talked about ice cream in Takapuna with Leo, and how hard it is to be away from home. It was a lovely warm thing to do, given selflessly and he maintained an unbroken conversation since. Apparently he did this for many many people. He was a great person. Love to Marie and Leo, Thanks William.

  12. hi William – spotted this from over here in London. So sad to hear the news, not surprising given his longstanding illness but upsetting and shocking all the same. The NZ / international art scene has lost a great artist, and a genuinely lovely guy.

  13. I just heard the sad news this morning, though still July 30 here in Chicago, a trick of time-zones that Julian and I always loved to laugh about. He is already missed.

  14. Deeply, deeply sad news. He’ll be missed in all corners of the world.

  15. Yes, very sad. Such a nice man.

  16. Thanks for this William. Really sad news.

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