Dunedin Artists in Wellington – Exhibition Review

16 March 2015 – 11 April 2015, Bowen Galleries, Wellington.

By Judith Yeh

For me it is hard not to walk into this exhibition without feeling a sense of sentimental familiarity. Something everyone should know about Dunedin before we get into the depth of this review, coming from a very recent Dunedinite – is that it is a small and homely town. Every third person you meet will either be an artist or a musician, or both; and they will be your best of friends almost immediately. From then forward, it is absolutely impossible to wander the streets without seeing them on a daily basis. I hope my close experience with the exhibition can put forward some insight for you.

The works shown are selected from Dunedin’s small yet dynamic Inge Doesburg Gallery. Inge Doesburg, a practice artist herself, supports a range of artists from well established to newly graduated. This eclectic nature is clearly shown the moment upon entering the gallery space. One’s immediate impulse can be described as walking into the lounge of an art fanatic who appreciates art as an ideology or a lifestyle, regardless of its style, form or size. Work of artists: framed or unframed, miniature or large, paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures and paper cutouts disperse all through this less than 6m2 space. It is as if Pandora’s box has been opened, blown up, and then barfed everywhere. But yet, there is a comprehensible cohesion to all of this disorder.

The impression one first encounters is the abstract work of Zuna Wright. Her mixture of warm colours accompanied with irrational yet considered brush strokes; alongside Motoko Kikkawa’s Rice Collar, welcomes the audience into the art shrine of Dunedin. Notably, there is a thoughtful transition within the room. The vibrancy and colourfulness slowly morphs into the infamous Dunedin style – monochromatic, moody and grunge. While in contrast, the more colourful part of the exhibition consisting of Kim Pieter’s dreamlike and philosophical paintings and Motoko Kikkawa’s exquisitely pensive Japanese style paper cutouts, brings tranquility and calm into the chaos. Across the room however the large, cloudy, black and white photographs by Inge Doesburg stand side by side by one another; immediately portraying a sense of isolation.

Interestingly enough, South Island artists in the past, are known for large landscape works. However, very little of so is present in this exhibition. The isolation geographically forces and allows them to evolve and adapt without falling into conformity. Surprises are constantly being discovered all through this beautiful little exhibition.

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Images taken from Bowen Galleries website

http://www.bowengalleries.co.nz/

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Unpainted: Helen Calder, James Bellaney, Kim Pieters, Fu On Chung – Exhibition Review

23 September 2014 – 18 October 2014, Blue Oyster Art Project Space.

By Judith Yeh

The first thing one sees at Blue Oyster Art Project Space is what looks to be enormous, peeled frankfurter skins suspended off the ceiling. It’s a decorative, unrefined work that sets the tone for this project, which alludes to the fact that painting is considered as a premise but not a parameter here. If the exhibition’s title, unpainted, hasn’t given enough hint already. Very soon one discovers that those raw plastic peelings are acrylic paint skins, removing any framework that denotes the installation as traditional painting. Helen Calder’s use of intensely saturated colours, and the title Red, Red, Red, Red, opens the dialogue to this force of redundancy towards painting.

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The exhibition begins to unfold as the other side of that wall hangs four small-scaled, brilliantly bright coloured “paintings”, wrapped in light-reflecting cellophane covers. A seemingly blatant and obvious way to fit in with the theme; Fu-On Chung’s canvas works sit face to face across the room to two large panels of canvases, which have more reasons for the viewer to unpick, and discover how it ties in with the exhibition. A composition of paint have been manipulated into swirling textural elements across the canvases, James Bellaney challenges the laboriousness of layering and manipulating paint. The intensity and the strong contrast of the complimentary colours, yellow and purple; Bellaney’s work screams emotionally at the brutality of the acrylic skins across the room. Inducing a slight claustrophobia. Suddenly, Chung’s small-scaled paintings against the exposed white walls seem to create a perfect equilibrium within the room, providing an escape from the structural exploitation of the two other works.

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Wandering further into the art space, a small dimmed room displays an achromatic, dream-like moving image soundscape; picturing soft focus renderings of Dunedin’s first church steeple against a background of scumbling and swirling dabs of light. Kim Pieter’s Flame takes on a number of painterly qualities outside the formality of a physical painting, accompanied by the artist’s narration of her creative process and journey.

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Although the exhibition’s title has a misleading nature that distracts the concept of the exhibition, it adds to the slightly muddled nature of the show. For a relatively compact exhibition, unpainted creates a somewhat coherent narrative from all of these disparate pieces. The fact that the works are in complete contrast to one another, installation and style wise, the result goes beyond the marginalised idea of traditional painting – creating an incredibly convincing argument.

Photo credit: Blue Oyster Art Project Space

More images available on blueoyster.org.nz