Herb Foley was born in England in 1935 and studied at the Liverpool College of Art prior to his arrival in New Zealand in 1973.
Foley has painted, exhibited and taught art all his life . With a long career of painting behind him he still paints daily now in his 80s. As the artist describes "I have been involved in Art all my life. My math teacher told me I would end up on the end of a brush ie sweeping the roads, a worthy occupation, looking after the environment, and so I have."
Foley finds formal inspiration in the environment using the pattern and shapes it contains, abstracting and simplifying. As the artist describes "I wanted to paint bush, squares of bush as I call them with every shape that was there, and yet they must work as a painting. I wanted to exclude gimmicks, devices, pretense and try to make the painting work. I feel a painting works when some innate feeling says it’s not too bad. When I paint I don’t think in words. There is no message in the painting and yet I feel I paint the most important subject matter there is… without it there is nothing."
Foley is a master of chiaroscuro, conveying dappled light which he effects with paint splatters and a subtle earthy palette. There appears a distinct fauvist element to many of Foleys paintings. The scenes presented are places the viewer has never seen before, a place possibly untouched or even unexplored, an environment not unlike that which the first settlers and early explorers to New Zealand would have been confronted with.
Herb Foley has work held in both public and private collections in England, Wales, Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand.
Foley conveys the dappled light which filters through New Zealand bush, particularly in the Northland region near to his home studio.