Jorge Pardo’s Mérida House – Art Review

In 2003 in Mérida artist Jorge Pardo started on a commission from the no longer existent London gallery Haunch of Venison. Pardo bought a small, dilapidated building between two houses in Mérida and used the $100,000 exhibition advance to completely renovate it. The renovations were designed by architects Mecky Reuss and Ana Paula Ruiz who are both part of Pardo’s studio staff and have worked with him before on the building and renovating of homes for the purpose of exhibition. In 2005, the house was constructed at an accelerated pace by hundreds of local laborers. As the exhibition was due to take place in the London galley in 2008 the curator and Pardo came up with an idea: Pardo took over four thousand images of the houses interior, photographing every inch. He then used the images as a backdrop in the gallery’s exhibition space and created an abstract notion of a house. The entire house was mapped out onto the gallery space. Morphing one site into another. In front of the photographs, the room was filled with decoy furnishings, lamps and paintings that were superimposed on the photographs of the houses interior. The space also featured sculptures from all stages of Pardo’s career. The house built by Pardo in Mérida, Mexico basically became a photographic prop. It was an object that’s final destination was photography. It was displayed in absintena, in the commercial gallery, in a completely different city that was thousands of miles away.

An interesting relationship was created between Pardo’s house in Merida and the gallery in London. The exhibition in London served as a portal through to view his house in Mérida. Working between the site of his house in Mérida and the gallery in London is nothing new for Pardo. As an artist, he is always shifting between sites and spaces with many functioning studios across America. Pardo has been quoted in saying  “wherever I am, the studio is.” whether that be the house in Mérida, Mecky Reuss and Ana Paula Ruiz house (the two architects working with Pardo), the workshop or his car that functions as a portable studio used to transport himself between the different locations. Pardo’s studio or site of art production is a completely flexible, fully reflexive, transdisciplinary process.

Pardos house in Mérida was the second house he has built as a surrogate artwork for exhibition. The first being 4166 Sea View Lane, Los Angeles a commission by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), in which every element was designed by Pardo: the house, lamps, furniture, tiles, garden, and kitchen cabinets. For five weeks in 1998, visitors were led on tours around the house. Once the exhibition finished Pardo moved in. For Pardo his houses in Mérida and Seaview Lane, LA, were still sculptures that conveniently function as residences for him to move into once the exhibition of the work has finished. It’s his works usefulness and functionality that prompts viewers and critics to ask questions of the work such as ‘Was it art? ‘Design?’ ‘Design art?’ or ‘Architecture?’ He has also been questioned in regards to scamming the gallery to build a free house for him to live. Pardo has long made functional sculptures and questioned traditional definitions and boundaries of art, using design, architecture, photography, painting, and sculpture.


New Representation Part II by Andre Hemer – Exhibition Review

By Maddy Plimmer

I first saw Andre Hemer’s work in the book Art and the Internet. Published was his wall painting entitled “Screensaver,” which mimics the movement of gliding screensaver imagery that bounces off the edges of screens into unpredictable directions. Hemer’s work focuses on replicating digital imagery with paint while examining these visuals as motifs of current pop culture. I was made aware of his exhibition at Bartley + Company by the public Facebook event and I attended the opening. Seeing his painted works that are part of “New Representation part II” in physical space was a very different experience to seeing their images online. The exhibition consisted of abstract paintings on canvas; their style and movement, to me, simulated the actions involved in using touch screen technology. The quality of the paint was very different in person, and I enjoyed being able to see the tactile and three-dimensional nature of the large blobs of paint as well as the gestural fluidity apparent in the thinner watered down layers of paint.  The gallery employed very standard methods for the piece’s display, with white walls, and balanced uniform hanging, but I do believe it was appropriate for this kind of dealer gallery exhibition. The space was small, and as some of the works were large it could have helpful to have been able to see the larger works from a distance, but I don’t feel as if this was a detriment to their display, especially since they were not so large that you couldn’t see the entire image as a whole. A physical exhibition was definitely the best mode for exhibiting these art works, especially since there was far more to the paintings than I ever realized having only seen their images online. It would have been cool to have seen the paintings given more space, however considering the purpose of the exhibition was to sell the works, the amount of works in the small space makes sense and is appropriate. The subject matter comes from a virtual, simulated digital experiences, however, these are works that rely on a physical viewing to be fully and accurately observed, and it was very rewarding to finally see Hemer’s work in its true form.

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Projected Fields by Siv B Fjaerestad – Art Review

By Kerry Males

Over the hill in Macalister Park there are a series of large scale field paintings. The paintings are in bright colours such as matte pinks and yellows, with geometric shapes like squares and rectangles. However the works may be faded due to the weather. These paintings were created by Fjaerestad, with help from various members of the public. Across the whole park was a wide spread selection of paintings that looked similar to pie graphs and bar charts but presented with a flair of abstraction.The lower half of the field had a series of two graph like images , and the upper half of the park had a series of similar looking images but  with a more abstract composition. All the paintings are inspired by the site and the community that uses it. In the year of 2014, Fjaerestad and a team of volunteers worked on surveying the park and how the local community used the space.

The statistics  gathered from the survey was used as information to inspire the paintings designs. For example the colours or certain shapes and forms might represent how many hours the park is used by young men or woman,or what hours of the day the park is most popular. Siv B Fjaerestad states the the paintings ask questions about how we use our city’s public commons. I found this work responded to the site very well, the narratives of the work made me think about the roles that the traditional field markings play and how the community engage with it. On the 19th of April there was an opening event held at the park.  Members of the public were invited to take part in some activities that were held on the paintings site. Such as zumba, football and also some members had the chance to paint there own lines on the field. I feel this project engaged with the community in a way that helped the artwork. A painting made with the community, for the community.

S P A C E S at The Dowse – Exhibtion Review

Featuring artists such as Andrew Barber, Zac Langdon-Pole, Gavin Hurley, Kate Newby, Patrick Lundberg, Fiona Connor and Peter Peryer.

The Dowse Art Museum -13 Dec 2014 – 22 Mar 2015

By Kane Laing

Walking into the space of S P A C E S, the first words that enter my mind are “Looks like Contemporary Art”. It had a feeling of contemporariness with its mix of contemporary aesthetic tropes, the giant abstract canvas, the small paintings, the giant semi-abstract reduction painting, the recontextualised stack of bricks, the intimate black and white photo, and of course the removed and relocated staircases sculpture in the middle of the room. Not to mention the colour theme of grey and white.

On the wall-text of S P A C E S is written:

 “How do you exhibit architecture? The common answer is generally a combination of drawings, models, photography and film – media that may provide a helpful representation but can never quite match the experience of architecture itself. . . Through these works we may begin to notice the physical space around us, and start to ask questions: How much does architecture impact on art? How much does art impact on architecture? Is it possible for the spaces we see art in to be neutral? Are some spaces so interesting architecturally that they dwarf the art? Can art change the way we see and remember a space?”

I don’t feel like any of these really good questions were addressed, except maybe in the most vague manner that only contemporary artists could. It sounds like a wonderful seed to an exhibition, but in this case the exhibition bears boring fruits. The exhibiton was very cold to me and try-hard contemporary, I didn’t like it. It is the sort of exhibition that leaves me with the underwhelming feeling of “Art, who cares.”.

However it was still worthwhile seeing. The stair sculpture was actually totally reconstructed, which was interesting, but I then wondered if it was more interesting than bringing some real stairs in. I really like the painting by Patrick Newby and I am a fan of his stuff, but it does nothing for this exhibition. Some things are kind of nice but nothing gives the exhibition life. It isn’t a bad exhibition it’s just really boring.



I can see the interesting links to architecture in most of these works, but I felt uninspired and distant from the beauty or fascination that can be found in architecture everywhere. The wall text in the show is right on the money and I want to see a show that really embodies those questions. But, I’m sorry, 12 bricks stacked up is a shallow engagement with an interesting concept. To me that is the essence of what is wrong with contemporary art, it’s so vague and clinical, and it can be intimidating to some people when it is so inaccessible. I don’t think the public has to be spoon-fed and there is room for ambiguity and unknowing-tension in art, but at least make it engaging.

The alphabet-art show upstairs was much more fun.

Images taken from The Dowse website

The Unbearable Lightness of Art by Simon Mark Smith – Exhibition Review

By John Fuller

Little Chelsea Gallery, UK. – 7 – 29 June 2014

Simon Mark Smith is a UK based artist with an eclectic mix of talents, ranging from digital art, photography and writing through to traditional painting. He is also a singer/songwriter. This particular exhibition sparked my interest, not because of the art itself, which is almost incidental in my view, or the slightly deadpan presentation, but because of the philosophical and far-reaching questions Smith is asking through this art and the innovative methods he has used to set up a dialogue with the viewer .

This artist uses digital photo frames, iPads, paint, photography, QR codes and mixes them all up to create what I would best describe as an artistic quandary, a situation where the questions asked have no clear answers. In fact if anything they possibly lead to more questions.

The Unbearable Lightness of Art opens up a Pandora’s Box of debates around the value of virtual art vs the value of printed art vs the value of traditional media. It questions how and who decides this value and even tackles the issue of the value of the artist’s name.

Thrown into the mix are hybrid works, which utilise digital photo frames with real paint added directly to the screens. There are digital photographs of objects, which are printed, painted on and then re-photographed before being digitally altered and displayed virtually in digital frames. These are displayed next to the same images printed on paper. Again questions around value (both monetary and artistic) are asked. Does a digital image on an iPad have any value? When the same image is printed does its value change? Again more questions than answers.

Smith goes on to explore the longevity of virtual art, or more accurately its lack of longevity. Will it survive over time, or will it be lost? Does it exist at all if it is not printed? Is its lack of permanency a good thing or a bad thing? Finally he uses QR codes to generate dialogue and some virtual images, including one of a self-portrait which was constructed entirely on his iPad using graphics software. This is a highly realistic rendering of the artist generated by his use of software. Is it a self-portrait or a portrait produced by a machine? Again more questions than answers. I have a head ache.

Bonus Simon Mark Smith music track. WARNING don’t watch this if you hate Elvis.

Milking a Dying Cow

 On a Clear Day – Max Gimblett      (Exhibition Review)

By John Fuller

Gimblett image

Four White Leopards, Max Gimblet, 2011, Mixed Media

Page Blackie Gallery, 42 Victoria Street. 5 March – 6 April 2013

As a painter of international note, New York based Max Gimblett has undoubtedly become one of New Zealand’s most successful artists, at least in a commercial sense.

Gimblett, a trained potter, took it upon himself to become a painter over 50 years ago and he has been regularly exhibiting in the US and abroad since the early 1970s. This particular exhibition at the Page Blackie Gallery is titled “On a Clear Day”. It features 14 pieces, predominantly in the quintessential quatrefoil configuration that Gimblett has made his trademark over many years, although the exhibition does include three other conventional (rectangular) works, which are significantly larger than the quatrefoils. As one would expect, all of the paintings are abstract and typically flamboyant, if somewhat haphazard in composition.

As a follower of this artist for several years, albeit from afar, I found this exhibition disappointingly passé. Although beautifully exhibited, particularly in respect to lighting, the overall impression was of generic commercial art with nothing new to offer over previous Gimblett work. To draw an analogy, it’s as though the artist is a scratched Kinks LP and the stylus is stuck on an old favourite of mine called “Repetition”. As the old saying goes, too much of anything is never a good thing. The overriding impression I take away from this exhibition, is of an artist well past his best, an artist going through the motions, but never daring to leave his comfort zone.

For many years Max Gimblett has actively perpetuated a public persona of an artist who works intuitively, a man claiming to paint in a trance, while under the influence of various supernatural entities. He even claims not to be able to remember the act of producing his work. This alone begs the question, how can he sign it if he does not know it is genuine? Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, when critically assessed, what is lacking in this art is any hint of true creativity, a credible thought process, or real substance. The paintings are almost incidental to Gimblett’s story telling and arguably lacking in any conceptual depth. Gimblett may well find himself trapped in a world he has created, unable to escape for the fear of actually having to produce relevant and engaging contemporary works.

A cynic could be tempted to accuse Max Gimblett of milking the cow while he can, because that cow must be on its last legs.

The Kinks “Repetition” is a great song. Hear it here: