Still Life With Mullet

Ross Ritchie 
New Zealand, 1941–
Still Life With Mullet 1987
oil on canvas, 815 x 672 mm
Collection of The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū: purchased from the Goodman-Suter Biennale 1988 with the Goodman-Suter Fund. ACC: 796

This painting is a conundrum. It’s a painting within a painting, but with a very peculiar fish that is out of proportion with either scene. Ritchie has used trompe l’oeil (trick-of-the-eye) so that the mullet appears to be sitting on top of the whole painting, although the shadow could just apply to the fish hanging out from the painting on the wall. How does the fish stay vertical when there is nothing holding it upright? 

Ross Ritchie is one of New Zealand’s leading post-modern artists. Although he is a figurative artist, his work often focuses on the surface on the painting. As in Still Life with Mullet, his paintings often use illusion and ambiguity.

Ross Ritchie. Photo courtesy Whitespace Gallery.

There’s a great article by Gordon Brown about Ross Ritchie here. He is represented by Whitespace Gallery in Auckland.

Installation Details

105 Montgomery Sq
(Harry's Fish Shop)


Many thanks to the property owner and tenant for being part of ArtWalk.

Nelson City Centre ArtWalk is a joint project by Make/Shift Spaces and The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū.