Sugar Loaf Waka. Graham Fletcher.
Melanie Roger Gallery. 2 till 27th July 2013
Sugar Loaf Waka is New Zealand artist Graham Fletcher’s latest show at Melanie Roger Gallery. As is usual with the artist’s work, he juxtaposes Western furnishings with ethnographic objects from the Pacific creating a literal hybrid space. In Fletcher’s new works he seems to be moving away from creating a sense of disconcertion when viewing his work, to producing a far more palpable tension. This tension is brought about by the content crowded scenes Fletcher depicts, often using the corner of the domestic space and the converging angles of these walls to create a claustrophobic experience for the viewer.
Tension is further expressed in the work through the use of complimentary colours, whose visual push/pull actions mimic that of the slippage between the decontextualised objects and their European surroundings. Fletcher’s choice of colour is also interesting in his use of pastel tones that recede against bright colours, which emphasises the disparity between the interior and the objects that fill it. This fetishisation and exaggeration of ‘object’ attracts and concurrently pushes the viewer away as Fletcher’s paintings themselves are reaffirmed as commodities. Incorporated in many of the exhibited works are brick or stone fire places, some of which are lit referencing habitation which forces us to question who the inhabitant may be; coloniser or colonised?
The title of the body of work Sugar Loaf Waka, references Peruvian Pre-Inca Monuments that share the shape of a sugar loaf; conically shaped compressed refined sugar. The monuments were mausoleums also containing indigenous artefacts and entombment comes through in Fletchers work in the dislocation of the tribal objects from their origin and purpose. From this, the viewer gains a sense of entrapment through domestication; a conquering of the authenticity of the object, rendering it no more important than any other acquisition displayed in the idealistic interior. This sense of enclosure is also, as previously mentioned, evident in the interior spaces that Fletcher draws the viewer in to, a somewhat unbalancing experience.
Fletcher’s painting style and level of representation reinforces his artistic action and also references 20th Century abstraction. In his most recent works this reference has been pushed further with the inclusion of Modern master’s work such as a painting by Mark Rothko and a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, intermingled as parts of the decor. This reference is perhaps indicative of the ambivalence of Post Colonial art from a colonised perspective and brings to our attention the debt owed by abstraction and especially primitivism as Western movements to indigenous art forms.
It is the equalisation of these two; Modern art and furniture with cultural artefacts, that are the most unsettling and simultaneously most successful aspects of this body of work. It is a series of works that calls the viewer into self reflection with the post colonial relationships they hold.
Untitled (Sugar Loaf Waka) 2013. oil on canvas 1500 × 1200mm
Photo Credit: http://melanierogergallery.com/