Gloves on . . . John Dennison makes the final arrangements to Salvator mundi by Tony Fomison now showing as part of exhibition at the Eastern Southland Gallery. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A flight to Wellington is no longer necessary to have a brush with the works of a major New Zealand painter.

A collection of Tony Fomison artworks assembled by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is now on show in Gore.

Tony Fomison: E ngaro ana i te Pouri / Lost in the Dark will be displayed in the Eastern Southland Gallery until May 30.

Gallery curator Jim Geddes said the works were highly sought-after.

“It would be impossible to gather a Tony Fomison collection without the help of somebody like Te Papa. They’ve been really good to us,” Mr Geddes said.

“[Fomison] was a well established, young avant-garde painter when I was at art school. He died quite young, which is sad.

“He was a very significant 20th century New Zealand artist … an extraordinary guy.”

Known for his big, brooding paintings, Fomison took inspiration from both near and far.

“He was very taken with renaissance and pre-renaissance and gothic [art]. He picked up the dark religious intensity of some works from those periods.

“He looked very carefully at the Maori world, which was often represented in his painting.”

Monochrome and muted tones were part of Fomison’s style.

“He didn’t flirt with colour. He had his palette and he stuck with it.”

The “uncompromising” man was not one who painted to the market, Mr Geddes said.

“He was an absolutely passionate, committed painter, but [they are] quite dark works.”

It was fitting for the exhibition to be held in Gore because Fomison had friendships and connections with some other artists displayed in the gallery, he said.

“He was a good friend and colleague of Ralph Hotere.”

Footage of Fomison at work would be played as part of the exhibition, and a cross on the gallery wall used to adorn the artist’s studio.

“He found that in an old abandoned church.”

These quirky touches helped to make the exhibition a special one, he said.