Philip Trusttum (born in Raetihi on 9 June 1940) is a leading New Zealand figurative, expressionist artist. His works are usually large-scale and energetic, on un-stretched canvas.
The Trusttum family moved several times, largely due to his father’s deteriorating health, from Raetihi to Christchurch, to Oxford, to Hawarden, Rangiora and Ashley. While they were still in Oxford, Philip’s interest in art was first taken seriously when he was sent, aged 12, for painting lessons from a Miss Cederman, but he first really studied the subject when he was 20. At that age he was accepted into the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, where he was taught by Rudolf Gopas (among others), who was to prove a strong influence on the young artist. He was also invited to exhibit with The Group, a group of well-known Canterbury artists whose members included Colin McCahon, Toss Woollaston, and Doris Lusk. Trusttum graduated with a Diploma in Fine Arts in 1965.
In 1967, Trusttum was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council scholarship for travel to develop his practice in Australia, though that trip began with a disaster when all the paintings he hoped to exhibit in Sydney were destroyed in a warehouse fire before he left. Another QE11 grant in 1972 enabled him to take his first trip to see paintings in Europe and the USA.
Trusttum’s work has largely been inspired by everyday life experiences often worked into a semi-abstract form. His subject matter has ranged from landscapes to tennis, gardening to horses to Japanese masks and portraits. In 1984, Trusttum participated in ANZART at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and followed that with an exhibition in New York that gained a review in the NY Times.
He has shown in Edinburgh, New York, Hobart and Sydney; in all of New Zealand’s main centres and many smaller ones. In 2000 he became only the second New Zealand artist to be awarded the prestigious Pollock Krasner Foundation grant.
Trusttum currently lives in a tin shed in central Christchurch, painting in a second one that was erected after the 2011 earthquake destroyed his earlier, elegant home on the same site.