Abstract expressionist artist. Born in Liverpool in 1948. Died in Napier on Wednesday, aged 51.




By GILBERT WONG



To those who knew him, Allen Maddox's death was not entirely unexpected. The artist was one of a triumvirate that included Tony Fomison and Philip Clairmont, who were known as hellraisers, living a life of drugs and booze.



Fomison was a heroin addict who died after a drinking binge. Clairmont committed suicide. Maddox was a self-described alcoholic who used whisky and cannabis as casually as if they were coffee and cigarettes. At an exhibition at the Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland last year Maddox acknowledged how he had outlasted his mates. "I'm the survivor - I'm the coward of the three of us," he laughed then.

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Like Fomison and Clairmont, Maddox's work is easily recognised. The story goes that while working as an advertising artist, he suddenly found himself disgusted with his work and drew vigorous crosses over it.



The abstract expressionist never returned to a nine-to-five life and the crosses remained a motif in his work right up to an exhibition this year. The crosses were the Scottish saltaire, alluding to his staunch Anglicanism.



Of the recurring symbol, he said, "It's a symbol of simple human activity. It's what St Alban, St David and St Andrew were crucified on. It's in Islamic, Polynesian and Celtic mythology.



"And of course, it's a hex. From the psychological point of view that means you can't get off it."



Herald art critic T.J. McNamara wrote of a 1998 exhibition: "What makes these paintings succeed are the positive qualities of the colour ... , and the sense of drama in their making. The viewer can fully participate in the whole theatrical experience of making these works."



Maddox, who emigrated from Liverpool with his parents, met Clairmont at the Canterbury School of Fine Arts and through him became friends with Fomison.



Maddox was not always a popular figure in galleries. Art dealer Denis Cohn has said Maddox was thrown out of a gallery on at least one occasion for trying to talk a buyer out of making a purchase.



His alcoholism meant that for periods he was downing bottles of scotch a day, which did not ease the schizophrenia he suffered from.



He said of Fomison and Clairmont last year, "One of the things about those two guys - and I can say this being schizophrenic and having caused them difficulties - is that they were non-judgmental."



Maddox, who lived in Napier, is survived by his wife, Marilou, and his father, Harry.