All posts filed under: Reviews

Restless Idiom at Te Uru

Over the last three years we have seen a popularity hike in the use of risograph as the print material supplementary to New Zealand Contemporary Art. It’s almost saturated the design market, at one stage seeming like a template to exhibition ephemera. It’s attractive for obvious reasons, it’s tactile, cheap and perfect for mass production. Most importantly, I think the attraction in the form was a desire to retract to manual print processes, almost nostalgic. The ‘digital screen print’ production allows a nature of layering and urgency, deeply embedded within political image making. James Cousins’ Restless Idiom at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery speaks design language. The 15 paintings ranging in sizes but mostly large all include a reproduced image (originally a photograph) and on top of that are contradictory abstract layers. Cousins employs various methods of layering – geometric stencils, floral arrangements, rolled paint – to create a dynamic image on a single painted plain. While the reproduced image is clearly there for a reason, deciphering exactly what it is, feels less important. Through the …

Sucu Mate / Born Dead at Hopkinson Mossman

Luke Willis Thompson’s found objects carry heavy baggage. They are loaded with association, either tracing personal connections or significant events. One such example is Yaw (RM Gallery, 2011) which assembled two objects from within his personal orbit, and with them opened a doorway to big issues of racism, slavery and the holocaust. Sucu Mate/ Born Dead is made up of nine unmarked gravestones standing in a row, cutting across the gallery floor. The wall text informs us that the anonymous headstones come from a colonial sugar plantation cemetery in Fiji for both the workers and managers. Immediately flags are raised regarding indentured labour, and indeed the value placed on both life and labour. Issues of racism and segregation rear their ugly heads. In the place of slavery came exploitation and the abuse of cheap ‘coolie’ labour: neo-slavery. We are confronted with a history that we may prefer to forget. Are the stones anonymous because no one bothered to name them? Or have any traces simply worn away with time, and records been lost? David Joselit argues …

Mahābhūta at Uxbridge and Fo Guang Shan

Mahābhūta: The Great Element was a solo show by Tiffany Singh at Uxbridge, a former site for a Presbyterian Church in Howick, and Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple in Flat Bush. Both exhibitions under the same name acted like sister shows, in very different settings. From the outset, and typical of Singh’s practice, this was an exhibition centered on multiplicity; multiple sites, installations, objects, traditions and ethnicities, a multi-sensory exhibition reflecting on the natural environment. And there are multiple things at stake for this social practitioner. The exhibition at Uxbridge included small sculptural works, films made with Robert George, a sound piece by Steven Berry, posters by The Kauri Project and The River of Verses, an installation of phrases painted around the entire circumference of the gallery. The phrases, which included proverbs and poetry on nature, were painted by local individuals and community groups, including schools and members of local iwi. The exhibition at Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, similarly, was made up of various sculptural works, drawings, installations and a film. Uxbridge, as a …

The Popular Recreator at Starkwhite

Hand vs. Machine Fiona Pardington’s The Popular Recreator at Starkwhite is made up of 12 white dinner plates hanging on one wall, along with 6 cups and a saucer. Each piece of ceramic has been adorned with an image in a selection of muted colours, which Starkwhite refers to as a suite of photographs. I think the images could be more accurately described as prints of historic engravings, even though they may well have been transferred using a photographic process. Pardington has salvaged old images and objects before in previous work, such as with the medical textbooks of Tainted Love, and the cast portraits of Ahua. With The Popular Recreator, one of Pardington’s key concerns is our loss of skill in the face of modern technology. Of course she is no stranger to the digital – her wonderful still life photographs ooze a mysterious energy oscillating between reality and artificiality. The images used for the current show, however, are all decidedly analogue: single-colour engraved illustrations taken from the 19th century encyclopedia The Popular Recreator: A …

what has anyone to worry about i cry alone at FUZZYVIBES

At the entrance to FUZZYVIBES some severed angel wings hang above the stairs. There’s a tragedy in an angel without wings, a loss of purity and innocence where the angel becomes just a human. And like Icarus, the Greek god who flew too close to the sun and fell to his tragic ironic death, the wings perhaps point to the consequence of individual over-ambition or this case a lack thereof.   Down the stairs however reveals something entirely different. Here, only natural light floods the space and I am immediately reminded of medieval monks who sit by giant stain glass windows in low light, writing in some ancient gothic script. Perhaps there is a reason for this faint reminder. Surrounding the space is Jessie Howlit’s painted gothic text. It reads “As this circle of light surrounds their image, so shall their heart. As this fragrant incense burns with fire their love grants, as these twelve candles burn, as love is given, so it will return.” After a quick internet search I discover it is actually a …

Urban Foraging

I’ve been walking a lot lately. Since university finished, I’ve joined the tribe delivering spam direct to your mailbox. I live in fear of being busted by an acquaintance. This could be because I feel guilty contributing to a world of wasted resources and landfill, but mostly I think its because I feel everyone I meet on the street despises the whole enterprise, and me along with it. In suburbia I am now a second-class citizen. But there are some upsides besides the exercise, especially for an artist. One is that doing repetitive mundane physical action allows the mind to wander, the other is that you notice things. I think I know a suburb, but covering every inch of both sides of every street and cul-de-sac, takes me to spots I’ve never been before. Being on foot with no distractions allows the luxury of time to register intriguing objects and unexpected vistas. Last week, collapsed in a comfy chair after four hours walking, I came across a Tate Talks podcast of a philosopher called Frederic …

Ex Rodeo Star at Wallace Gallery Morrinsville

How to make paint, that despised of mediums among the cognoscenti, look fresh, relevant and contemporary, the match for digital, performance, video and such other hip-like genres, modes and methods? Go no further than Phillip Mcilhagga and his recent exhibition at the Wallace Gallery, Morrinsville. Called, Ex Rodeo Star, this cowboy takes a wild ride into the Badlands of Street Art and mixes it up with flurries and footnotes of abstract notation. Reloading his spray cans and strapped on his oil-sticks, this dude has face-downed the dark voids in the form of huge drop-sheets of black builders paper, beating to the draw the spectre of nothingness brooding like a cloud over every cowpoke’s outstretched vista of creative visualization. Looking at the work, one can say that, yes, he has roped and hogtied the varmint. The works, which number 16 in total, completely engulf the gallery space in the same way Christine Webster’s Black Carnival did. From floor to ceiling in height and butted hard up against each other, the array of loose hanging McCahon size …

Santisima Virgen de las Barrikadas |Te Takakau tapu o Barricades | Blessed Virgin of the Barricades

Oracion – Prayer – Te Karakia (1) You, who were born on the street amid subversive graffiti, keep alive the flame of rebellion We whose multi-coloured spray made the miracle of your Incarnation You, who stand on an old tyre, crush the demons of capitalist domination Artist, eco-architect and champion of the people’s media – the poster, Xavier de la Cueva Meade lives in the hills of Whaingaroa-Raglan with his partner, Carolyna Hart. His motherland is Mexico. You actually cannot take Mexico outta the boy. The spirit of Emiliano Zapata is his guardian angel and Santisima Virgen de las Barrikadas is always interceding on his behalf to the heart of indigenous Mexico. Meade is an artist suspicious of America and the many manifestations of colonial powers and multi-national corporations, or ‘demonic’ capitalism. In 2003-4, I had the honour of teaching in the studio next to Meade, Xavier de la Cueva Meade at the School of Media Arts in the Drawing and Design faculty. Slowly learning about the depth of conviction he had for the indigenous …

I’ve only read the book

Art relies on time and wrestles with it in the same breathe. Unstuck in Time was a reaction to the Reeves Road flyover that was scheduled to begin construction in 2015, resulting in the temporary closure of Te Tuhi. Looking to continue the gallery programme throughout the closure Te Tuhi curator Bruce Phillips then commissioned a number of offsite projects. With the delay and eventual cancellation of the construction project, Bruce was then charged with additional programming inside Te Tuhi itself. I never saw any of Unstuck in Time. I’ve only read the book. When I saw Wunderūmma at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, I was instantly attracted to a moment. A blue and white tablecloth roughly attached to the gallery wall by Simon Denny sat beneath a landscape painting by Teuane Tibbo (the first Samoan painter to exhibit in a dealer gallery). The pairing was a conceptual revelation. The slacker styling of Denny, and the ‘naïve’ instincts of Tibbo formed a dynamic relationship between two unlikely companions. The impact upon me was immediate, …