Re:New.all

Recently I was pleased to visit a group show in the Pearce Gallery, a little known gallery space in Parnell that is part of the private art school, Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. I know a little about the school so when I saw this exhibition called Re:New.All (and I think I have all the somewhat superfluous and a little bit 1980s punctuation in the right place) showing the work of the masters graduates from last year, I thought I would go along to see what this college was turning out. I was pleasantly surprised by the calibre of most of the show.

Upon entering the slightly odd-shaped space I was alerted to the postcards on a plinth. I had recently seen this done at Artstation and found these helpful and indeed a satisfying way for the artists to disseminate information about their work without having to have distracting numbers and statements on the wall. I collected one for each of the six exhibiting artists – an image on the front and artist statement on the reverse.

Fabric artist Catherine Davies-Colley’s contribution, Together and Apart, consisted of stitching in three colours, the dissolvable fabric that had been stitched dissolved away. Her two works presented an interesting contrast. The first had been stitched on one piece of fabric while the other on three separate pieces. The former of course had structural integrity while the other, the coloured stitching loosely overlaid on each other, fell slack from the pins in the wall setting up an interesting metaphor of strength in community.

Community features in the large and rather striking painting by Nelson-based Lisa Chandler, her work an urban and very peopled landscape. But her sense of an urban community seems to be anonymous and somewhat isolating even when surrounded by one’s community. In contrast to this urbanity Chris Kane’s works, depicting the early morning mist nestled in the valleys of northland farms, give an ephemeral and quiet solitary feel that made me want to ponder them slowly as I might when with faced with the real thing.

Tracy Porteous’ back lit photos were striking in their clarity, tipping her hat in Jeff Wall’s direction in delivery if not subject matter. Her apparent abstracts actually deriving from the artist’s movements, camera in hand, in an almost Rosenberg-style trance. A trace of movement is also explored in a large silver point abstract drawing by Aurelia Zatta, who I believe had a work in the last Wallace Awards show. Her subject matter, the marks left on a wall used for advertising posters in the artist’s local supermarket. Zatta recreates them in a style reminiscent of Julie Mehretu.

But for me the most interesting tracing of movement was in the bold work by Melissa Dines cleverly entitled You’re rubbing off on me. As I mentioned before, the gallery is a slightly odd shape and Dines used this to her advantage, taking up two walls at about a 230 degree angle to each other. The walls had been gessoed and painstakingly and remarkably evenly covered with graphite. Her postcard deftly invited the public, with the use of an image of her name and mobile number rubbed out of graphite and a passage from an interview with Robert Rauschenberg talking rather jovially about his seminal work, Erased de Kooning Drawing. Interestingly this is the second time recently I have come across RR inspiring artists today (refer to my review of SHOULD LOVE COME FIRST?) and it is heartening to see that he still holds some gravitas with today’s artists. Dines’ postcard served well as an invitation to play – when I saw the show many willing participants had made their mark by rubbing out the artist’s graphite mark. I would rather suspect that all it took was the first person to boldly state ‘I woz here’ to get people’s participatory spirit excited. I enjoyed closely observing the traces of action – some clearly small and perhaps private musings, others grand gestures suggesting flamboyant movement and a sense of performance.

PJ MacBridges, March 2013

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