First published 2013
Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga
By Sarah Kennedy
This publication explores the journey of an artist who has made a big achievement over the past three decades in New Zealand and also overseas with an insightful narrative of what it took to make it in the art world. Jeff Thomson is a New Zealand sculptor who is well known for his corrugated iron works. His explorations of this specific material enabled him to explore the process of shaping and cutting, weaving and French knitting, cladding, roofing, printing the surface, cutting, stacking, braiding and moulding to make objects that seem at odds with the material they are made of.
The very beginning of his successful career started from long distance walks from place to place in rural areas of New Zealand fascinated by their mailboxes. In 1981 Jeff Thomson walked from Bulls to New Plymouth and along the way started to put letters in mailboxes, telling people about himself and his work, proposing that he would make an artwork for them. From the 350 letters delivered Thomson had received seven responses back with the owner’s interests, and set off constructing mailboxes personalised each by a sculpture. These works appeared in his first solo exhibition ‘Mailboxes’ in 1982 Auckland dealer gallery, RKS Art and in 1984 featured in Bowen Galleries, Wellington with the first time using corrugated iron of a cut–out shape of a cow. This show attracted attention from the public and opened up the opportunity where people were asking for him to make works of what they wanted with this material. The artist also sent proposals to galleries and got many offers in artist residency, and his public sculptures are seen all around New Zealand and is productive finishing commissions for offshore clients.
Jeff Thomson is a busy man, constant in demand. The very nature of his work reaches a variety of audiences because it is memorable, humorous and the way he uses corrugated iron to make common everyday objects we are familiar with is extraordinary. The publication is a useful tool to read and make a connection with his work, experiencing works you’ve seen already and discovering new works. In awe I’m inspired by his work because of the artist technique in mastering the kiwi material of corrugated iron and unlimited imagination to make anything possible for the people.
While wandering Cuba street on a ‘gallery wander’, I came across a concert couch sculpture placed in front of a bar. The hard-shaped old fashion couch design did not pull me in to sit on it, as it was a cold wet night in Wellington. I then came across glass text explaining that Weta created the couch and that there was a built-in heater that turns on every hour. I was very surprised and interested in the choice of material such as concrete which is hard and cold in winter. Also though the heater goes on every hour, it’s only between 7am and 9pm. I missed this heater time period and was skeptical regarding the relaxing heat element. I guess the choice of concrete was due to the outdoor weather in Wellington which would destroy any other couch. This is all a ‘cold reading’ as I did not find any information online about this work and the label on the glass only labelled the chair and did not provide any additional information. A bit more information on how and why this was made would be nice as it has sparked my curiosity.
If I was to make an outdoor comfy furniture using the Wellington theme, I think a cover from the wind and rain would be great. As a person who wanders from the train station to Newtown often, hiding from the elements is key sometimes. While this work was a surprise sculpture to me I’d like to do a more simplified method of surprising people.
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.
By Sophia Gambitsis
Chelsea New York, New York / Beacon, New York.
The word “dia” in Greek means “through” and it represents the Dia’s initial and ongoing support for artists, artist projects and long-term installations.
Why the obsession with space and wood floors? After wandering New York’s white cube, clustered and some cramped or over-filled galleries on Massey University New York tour. We left the city on a train and ended up at the Dia gallery. It was calm and quiet compared to the city galleries. I wandered the massive gallery and came across John Chamberlain. I had never seen his work but I was instantly amazed at the weight and size of the work. I found myself peering my head into the sculpture and consequentially being screamed at by staff. My curiosity however was set in. I wanted to see how he crafted these squished metal shapes.
I think that the Dia gallery gave these works a lot of breathing space — and I mean a lot. The large windows on the side highlighted the work and formed interesting shadows which created a natural beauty of nature which contrasted with the hard metal. The placement of the works in the room allowed great space visualisation. It made you want to walk around and stand back. If they were clustered together, I believe the works would have looked less like abstract sculptures and more like a pile of metal rubbish. In addition to this, the colour placement of the works were well-balanced, as I hate biggest to smallest set ups. These works looked romantic and beautiful in this gallery as I love space and the architecture. So all together I enjoyed the work in this gallery more than in the Guggenheim Museum, because the white walls and squished space did not give the work any space to breathe. Meaning his works were well displayed by not being put on plinths or being clustered together and was a successful display and had easy access for all ages.
By Jesse Bowling
Yoons work “To Reverse Yourself”, is a mirrored work with a whole cut ¾ up the mirror for a participator to place their face. This work is made from a freestanding wooden frame with a mirror placed on one façade. This work is in reference to Giuseppe Penone’s work “To Reverse One’s Eyes”.
In a small write-up by Yoon on this work on his website he explains how he is interested in the relationship of self to others. This work starts to reflect a hybrid image that combines one, the viewer and two, the participator; the participators face is placed on the viewer’s body. This work is dependent on the interaction of two people, so that the full optical engagement can be realized. Yoon seeks to reverse the viewer’s perspective of one self and how this engages with the “other” or how one can see your self but the defining part of your identity is removed and replaced with someone else’s face.
Yoon also states “…my work speaks about illusional experience as a whole”. I find this statement quiet shallow, I do not feel that it’s an “illusion” it’s far more literal than a normal mirror. This work breaks the illusional aspects of the mirrors representation of reality and questions the Foucauldian notions I explained in my previous review of Anish Kapoor’s work. As one is “over there” but not complete, the face of the participator is present physically, and replaces your reflection with a “real” face that is not your own.
Over all this is an interesting work when the representation of self is concerned and links to my thinking around my practice of the representation of self through a digital medium.
This can also been seen as another interesting selfie opportunity as there are apps that replace the face of you with another, with this object you can do it with out the use of a digital tool, and have a great photo with your BFF.
By Kerry Males
At the top of Cuba Street in the Thistle Hall, there is series of works that explore the shape known as “Oloids”. An Oloid is a three-dimensional curved geometric object. It is the convex hull of a skeletal frame made by placing two linked congruent circles in perpendicular planes, so that the centre of each circle lies on the other circle. The works range in size and colour, but usually take on a strange form similar to a muscle shell and are usually made from plaster of paris that is sanded to perfection by hand. The exhibition was filled to the brim with Oloids. As you walk in different sized plinths surround you that each hold around 15 works, this made for a nice selection but was a little overwhelming. Towards the end of the room there are several works that are placed in the gaps between the bricks. An interactive work was placed close to the door on the right that I completely missed until the artist guided me towards it. The interactive piece was set on a small, carpeted ramp with an Oliod on top that you could roll down. Oloids can roll in a perfectly straight line, interesting stuff. I felt a strange sense of “Kiwiana” in this exhibition. Although this exhibition was about the form of an Oloid, it seemed to be more focused on the painting over top of the Oloid. Ranging in colours and common references to kiwiana, such as Oloids painted as rugby balls. I feel like exploration in the actual form of the oliod was almost absent in this exhibition, The forms roll completely straight, Peter Rumble could have made a skateboard with Oliod wheels! Most of the works are all around the same size and form, its the painting on the outside that is explored the most.
“There is no decahedron like a snowdecahedron.” -Plato
By Sophia Gambitsis
Today I decided to google temporary public art as I was exploring putting objects in a public space. The interest I had in this work was the temporary factor, as I’m not intrigued by art that stays put. For instance Donald Judd, a minimalist, believed that work made for a site should stay and not be moved around. The work I found by Sternof Beyer in south station, Union Square, Porter Square, 2011, was enjoyable as well as the public, the playful manner of these works and how people were surprised by them. After a heavy snow storm Beyer’s original thought was to build cement dodecahedrons, but “when it began to snow it was just the perfect medium, this temporary, packable sculptural material everywhere, and I just started going out and making them.” (Quoted in an interview.) I can greatly agree with this spontaneous change in material as with my own work, playing with material and surroundings is both fun and interesting. I think that the cement sculptures would not have had a great impact because they would have been heavy and boring in a gallery, although the shape would still be beautiful. I say it would still be beautiful since the snow ones blend into the surroundings and are more delicate. This makes me appreciate the shape more due to its temporary element. I would like to convey this through my ‘Relax’ sculptures in public with items that are visually calming and temporary.
The reason why I enjoyed these documented images of the work (as I was not present) was because of the people’s faces when they saw the work. It reminds me of how I react whenever I find a sculpture in the city. It adds an element of inspiration to my day. Also, the solitude shots of the geometric cubes are humorous to me as it’s so small and cute amongst a big grungy city. It’s comparable to white walls in a clean gallery out in the streets. The useful factors of this work include how one can take a work out of gallery context and have a more playful manner within the city. Also the use of the elements in the city were very clever and beautiful.