The New Zealand Arts Review

Reviews and Commentary by John Daly-Peoples

Tony Lane, Whanarua

Tony Lane , Between Heaven and Earth II

Tony Lane. Between Heaven and Earth II

Orexart

Until June 31

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

In Tony Lane’s latest exhibition “Between Heaven and Earth II” the artist builds on his 2019 exhibition of the same name continuing to paint landscapes which feature bulbous hills, enigmatic shapes and objects to create almost surrealist images which could have been painted in Trecento Italy by artists such as Sassetta or Duccio.

But the artist has another dimension to the exhibition, that of the New Zealand landscape, referring to the pumice country of Rotorua, the Kaingaroa plains stretching out to the Ureweras.

He was affected by the writings of Te Kooti which expressed “profound empathy with his surroundings, both in the geographical sense and in a more general metaphorical way – his shared identity with this world. It led me to think of our contemporary issue of climate change and our part in it. It reminded me of our need to connect with the natural world, the one we alienate ourselves from – at our own peril”.

“These paintings, are an attempt to reveal the beauty of the natural world and to reach beyond it to an ideal one, a heavenly one that lies in parallel, on the periphery of our vision”

Most of the paintings in the show features triple bands of landscapes in much the same format that artists on Cook’s voyages produced layered coastal profiles as a means of documenting the outlines of the landscapes.

They also mirror the more recent painted coastal landscapes of Clyde Scott’s exhibition “Encounters with Cook” currently on at Nelson’s Suter Gallery which replicate Cooks coastal profiles.

These stacked landscapes can be seen as the realms of heaven, earth and the underworld or the various times of the day from dawn to dusk with changing light and shadows.

While these landscapes are stylised they do have some links to the New Zealand landscape, if only in their titles. In the case of “Between Heaven and Earth, Tarawera” ($28,000) there is an obvious connection to the landscape of New Zealand and recall the way in which McCahon would set his biblical narratives in New Zealand locations and the way that Medieval artists would use their local landscapes in which to set the biblical stories.

In “Whanarua” ($22,000) the artist has indicated the East Coast bay surrounded by hills, the work itself bearing signs of distressed marks on its surface, aging it, and giving it a sense of history.

The layered structures of these landscapes also reference the landscapes of Colin McCahon such as “Six days in Nelson and Canterbury” as well as the work of Bill Sutton. In most of these painting the layers of landscape are connected by series of dotted lines. They are a technique employed by the artist which links the medieval practice of words or rays of divine light emanating from the heavens.

The artist has often included strings of beads which had various symbolism – the threads of life, the prayer beads and looped bracelet related to String Theory and DNA strands . In these works, the strings are used to link heaven and earth, the spiritual and the physical as with ”Rising Up” ($9500). Here as in other works the metallic dots forming the strings connect with the ribbed metal frame becoming a framing device and part of the painting rather than a simple border.

As well as the large landscapes there are a couple of small delicate works such “Sky, Both Night and Day” ($4500), a dark work where there is a single landscape profile representing either dawn or dusk. Here the dotted lines which connect heaven and earth look like searchlights scanning the heavens

While most of the works are of stacked landscape there are others like “Portrait in a Landscape” ($26,000) and “Portrait in a Dark Night with Moon” ($22,000) which include stylised trees and a seat that function as effective symbols. The trees reference the Christian Tree of Knowledge, the idea that trees connect heaven and earth, the crucifix and the death of Christ. with the chair representing power, isolation and contemplation.

“Looking Towards the Promised Land” ($,9500) and “Halo, Galatea” ($15,500) include floating cloud shapes which the artist has previously used in a reference to the “Cloud of Unknowing” a tract written by a Christian mystic as well as McCahon’s cloud paintings all indicating the idea of a divine or otherworldly presence.

In all these paintings the artist discovers and reworks the ideas which those early artists dealt with – the nature of pictorial space, spatial light, simple perspective and use of symbolism.

There is a cross pollination of ideas and concepts and the artist toys with notions of mysticism, metaphysics, the scientific and pseud- scientific combining the rational with the intuitive.

www.orexart.co.nz

Pamela Wolfe, Florophilia "Full Yellow & Red Peony"

Pamela Wolfe's New Exhibition of Luscious Flower paintings

Pamela Wolfe, Florophilia

Artis Gallery

Until June 7

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

In the introduction to her new exhibition “Florophilia” Pamela Wolfe writes about her obsession with flowers.

“Right now is a critical time for Nature and the continuous cycling of life. The urgent regeneration of plants provides us with essentials for survival, purifying and pollinating our world.

From ancient enduring trees to the innocent flower’s gaudy beacon to bees, all offer us inspiration, hope and consolation.

There is no need for words.”

From ancient times to the present, the artists have been inspired by the beauty of flowers which celebrated the beauty of the seasons. Poetry provided the earliest artistic outlet for the expression of these impulses. Painters and artisans in turn created images of visual beauty with meditations on the fleeting seasons of life and the nature of human experience.

This abiluty of artist to recreate the natural world has featured throughout history from Zeuxis, one of the artists of Ancient Greece renowned for his realism in painting nature through to Woodsworth’s Romantic poetry and had a high point in the seventeenth century with flower paintings of the Dutch masters

These painted flowers were valued not so much for the beauty of their painting but rather the meanings of the flowers – notions associated with love – honour, romantic love, forgotten love, but also the negative aspects of love – guilt and shame.

Wolfe’s new exhibitions consists of five oil paintings on canvas and five smaller works of acrylic on paper, all depicting the lush beauty of flowers. The backgrounds of the oil paintings vary from the intense black through to white but in all of them the large flowers dominate the backgrounds.

“Striped Peony” ($17,500) with its intense black backgrounds provides a connection with the Dutch flower paintings with a sense of brooding on the transient nature of life while with “Hydrangea & Pink Peony” ($22,000),the flowers appear to cast a shadow on the background, hovering like a dark cloud.

With most of the large works the artist has depicted the voluptuous petals of the blooming flowers and buds which are tightly cropped almost filling the frame as with “Full Yellow & Red Peony” ($23,000) while with “Large Yellow Peony & Antirrhinum” ($23,500) the artist has depicted a large formal floral display which is a celebration of the florist’s art.

There are also works on paper with grey or white backgrounds of small floral displays in vases or jugs. The lighter background gives the floral arrangements a brighter appearance and they take on a sharper and more intense sense of colour. These works such as “Love in the Mist & Roses” ($5500) are more like the botanical studies by artists like Sydney Parkinson in their clarity of description.

Although all the works are carefully constructed to emphasis either their arbitrary arrangements or more carefully considered displays, the artist can be seen manipulating them so that “Striped Peony” has an almost abstract construction contrasting with the tidy regimented set of three blooms in “Specimens” ($4800).

Recent Reviews. (Scroll down)

Pamela Wolfe, Florophilia

High Wire by Lloyd Jones and Euan Macleod

Auckland Virtual Art Fair

Enchanted Worlds, Auckland Art Gallery

Auckland Arts Festival. Snow White & Cold Blood

Auckland Arts Festival, Eight Songs for a Mad King

Black Lover at ATC

Release the Stars. - Looking through Maori artist's eyes

Auckland Philharmonia, Bach & Brahms

Film Review: Parasite

Roger Hall's "Winding Up"

Marian Fountain & John Blackburn, Parallel Reflections

Film Review, La Belle Epoque

John Turner; A Life in Photographs

Grace Bader and the New Cubism

 

High Wire

High Wire by Lloyd Jones and Euan Macleod. Illustrations © Euan Macleod, 2020

High Wire by Lloyd Jones and Euan Macleod. A new writer / artist collaboration launching with an online event

High Wire

Lloyd Jones and Euan Macleod

Massey University Press

Publication date May 14

RRP $45

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

High Wire written by Booker finalist writer Lloyd Jones and illustrated by artist Euan Macleod is the first in a series of innovative books which combine the talents of writers and artists to create publications which are both works of literature and art books.

There have been a number of writer / artist collaborations in the history of New Zealand publications. Colin McCahon illustrated John Caselberg’s Van Gogh poems and Max Gimblett and Alan Loney worked together on several publications

In High Wire Jones notes that he had intended the book to be about bridges which Macleod was also interested in. After the initial sketches from the artist Jones firmed up his ideas and as he says “I began to think of a single life consisting of many bridges crossed, then re-crossed, one after another – of departures and arrivals, ascents and as many descents until at last we are alone hoisted high above the ordinary and mundane”.

So, the book while starting off with an idea around physical structures, moves on to being about journeys and in the end became a book not so much about actual journeys but metaphysical ones.

One of the starting points for the ideas of bridges, transitions and journeys was the daring exploit of the French tightrope walker Phillipe Petit who walked between the twin towers in 1974.

This event is linked to other events in the author’s life, going up the twin towers, crossing a railway bridge as a child as well as walking over Brooklyn Bridge and a bridge in Kolkata.

He expands this reminiscing and dreaming of bridges into the notions of separation between individual and between places . He muses on the physical separation of himself in Wellington and Macleod in Sydney as well as the connections and how their ideas feed off the other as the book progresses.

The book is fairly short, not more than a short story but Jones has packed it with a host of reminiscences and observations which are part poetic, part memoir and part free ranging musings making clever connections between the artwork and his text.

Macleod’s art has often featured solo figures striding through landscapers and in these illustrations the artist has taken the sketchy image of Petit and turned him into an Everyman, confronting obstacles and journeys. Reading the book, one is aware of the real sense of collaboration.

This is not merely the artist illustrating the words or the writer responding to the images. Writer and artist are involved in a dialogue, each of them surprising and stimulating the other.

High Wire is a beautifully crafted book with designer Gary Stewart letting Jones’ text and MacLeod’s drawings spread across the pages in a journey which underlines the intentions of both writer and artist.

 

The book will have a virtual launch at 6.30pm this Wednesday (13 May) on Poetry Shelf: https://nzpoetryshelf.com/

 

All bookshops should be open in the next few days making it easy enough to get copies of the book, but the Massey University Press website provides details for purchasing direct as well as a list of booksellers with stock.

(https://www.masseypress.ac.nz/books/all/all/high-wire)

 

Auckland Virtual Art Fair opens this week. Heather Straka, Dissected Parlour (Trish Clark Gallery) and Paul Dibble, Tui on Architecture (Gow Langsfrod Gallery)

Auckland Virtual Art Fair opens next week

Auckland’s Virtual Art Fair

30 April - 17 May.

New Zealand’s first Virtual Art Fair will take place from next Thursday for two weeks. This online edition has been developed in response to the cancellation of Auckland Art Fair, scheduled to take place on these dates at Auckland’s The Cloud.

The online edition will feature 35 galleries from New Zealand, Australia and the UK who will each display up to 15 works of art that would normally have been seen at the Fair, all viewable for free.

It comes after a number of exhibitions and events have been cancelled as a result of Covid-19, and at a time when the arts and culture sectors are particularly hurting.

Internationally other art fairs are turning to digital platforms. In March Art Basel Hong Kong opened their digital art fair with some of the larger galleries reporting relatively robust sales at high prices in the online viewing rooms, but many of the smaller and mid-size galleries had fewer sales although it seems that galleries with already established digital set ups were doing better than those new to the online method of exhibiting and selling.

Frieze has called off its New York fair to be held in May and will launch a virtual fair, allowing galleries the chance to have their own individual viewing rooms.

North Port Events, organisers of Auckland Art Fair wanted to recognise the artists who have already made works for the fair that didn’t happen, and the galleries who have supported them in doing so. “All around us right now, we are hearing of the importance of art - something we know to be true at all times, but especially in troubled times.” say Auckland Art Fair co-directors, Stephanie Post and Hayley White.

“Our virtual art fair, is a celebration - as best we can - of the talent and diversity of art making in our region - across New Zealand and Australia, but also around the wider Pacific-rim and a hope that, wherever possible, some of these artists and galleries will be supported by someone buying a work of art.”

Following the cancellation of the Fair and full refund of booth fees, all galleries who would have participated in the event at The Cloud were invited to be part of the online edition for a small fee to cover site development, time and promotion.

In the online fair visitors can enquire about individual works by clicking an ‘Enquire Now’ button next to the image. Prices and other information will be accessible, and anyone interested is able to request more information, or make a purchase, from the gallery directly.

“Our Virtual Fair will never replace the real thing” say the Fair co-directors “but it is a unique opportunity during these times to browse at leisure, get to know new galleries and new artists, and if you possibly can, support contemporary culture at a time when artists and galleries really need it.”.

Laree Payne of Weasel Gallery will be presenting work by Laura Williams and Chauncey Flay. Laura Williams will have seven works under the title “Of Biblical Proportions” which unpack and subvert biblical narratives imposed on the artist in her formative years. The works present re-imaged narratives which re-position men and women on more equal footing subverting the biblical narratives in a humorous and playful way with works such  “Garden Of Eden: Big Apples” ($3400) and “Unashamed: Bathsheba, Susannah & Friends Cavort” ($3400).

Chauncey Flay works in various materials including New Zealand greywacke, coral and Tākaka marble a stone which was specified by architect, John Campbell, and used in a number of major public buildings including Parliament House. Following earthquake strengthening and rebuilding, some of the original marble was discarded - with the concrete and brick foundation still attached. Flay has employed these materials for his newest works such as “Parliament House V” ($3200).

Tim Melville Gallery will be showing Yolngu artist Nonggirrnga Marawili “Baratjala” $3600 (unframed) and “Djapu Design” $3600 (unframed)

Marawili was born c.1939 in Arnhem Land and makes paintings on bark using ochre, natural pigments and (more recently) recycled printer toner. She was the subject of the retrospective, ‘From My Heart and My Mind,’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in November 2018 and was included in the 2020 Sydney Biennale.

Tim Melville says of her work “Lightning illuminating ocean spray, rocks, cyclones and water currents all find a place in Marawili’s uniquely innovative visual language – a poised and instinctive feel for negative space combined with traditional cross-hatch motifs.”

He will be also showing Joe Sheehan who explores the contemporary relevance and position of stone carving by playing with social and cultural contexts and by making artworks that speak about both their material and object status. His work has included traditional forms of jewellery as well as a working lightbulb, and a New Zealand pounamu (jade) cassette tape which plays a recording of the river where the stone was found. For the exhibition he will be presenting meticulously rendered 9-volt batteries carved from various stones with cast sterling silver contacts at $1500 each.

Gow Langsford will be exhibiting a major Frances Hodgkins work “Middle Hill, Solva”, which Sir Kenneth Clark had selected to be part of the artist’s cancelled exhibition for the 1940 Venice Biennale. Other work on show include Paul Dibble’s bronze ”Tui on Architecture”($95,000) , Virginia Leonard sculptural work “Woke and Limping “ ($16,000) as well as showcasing works by Tony Cragg, Dale Frank, Louise Henderson, John Pule, Karl Maughan, and Judy Millar.

Trish Clark Gallery will be showing work by Stephen Bambury and Heather Straka. Trish Clark says “With the pandemic and the grief around the world I wanted to reference the current zeitgeist in circular fashion, from the commentary and attack on power systems in Heather’s Straka’s two bodies of work in counterpoint to the natural system that has highlighted those same power systems currently, to the allure and potency of both the quotidian and the sublime, the things that in fact we are all relying right now.”

Straka’s photographs are  reworkings of her dystopian 2019 exhibition “ … another dissection” with portraits of some of the revolutionary female characters she created such as “Dissected Parlour 3” ($5000 unframed), an image of a young Asian woman with a Molotove cocktail.

The full list of galleries participating in the online event includes: {Suite} (Wellington), Ivan Anthony (Auckland), ARTIS Gallery (Auckland), Bartley + Company Art (Wellington), Black Door Gallery (Auckland,) Bowerbank Ninow (Auckland,) Trish Clark Gallery (Auckland), Edwina Corlette Gallery (Brisbane), Sarah Cottier Gallery (Sydney), Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert (Sydney), Fine Arts, Sydney (Sydney), Föenander Galleries (Auckland), Fox FHE (Aucklnad), McLeavey gallery (Wellington) Jensen McCrory (Auckland and Sydney), Gow Langsford Gallery (Auckland), Michael Lett (Auckland), M+P Art (London and Oxon), Masterworks Gallery (Auckland), Tim Melville (Auckland), Jhana Millers (Wellington), Mossman (Wellington), Page Galleries (Wellington), Spurs Gallery (Beijing), Piermarq (Sydney), Melanie Roger Gallery (Auckland), Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art (Melbourne), Sarah Scout Presents (Melbourne), Sanderson Contemporary (Auckland), Starkwhite (Auckland), Station (Melbourne and Sydney), Sumer (Tauranga), Two Rooms (Auckland), The Vivian (Matakana), Weasel (Hamilton)

The fair will open online for VIPs from Wednesday 29 April, before opening to the public on Thursday 30 April at 11.00am.

To access the online art fair viewers go to the Art Fair website (artfair.co.nz), enter your first and last name and email address to register. There is no charge - all entries are free.

Nonggirrnga Marawili “Baratjala” (Time Melville Gallery) and Laura williams "Garden of Eden, Big Apples" (Weasel Gallery)

Enchanted Worlds: Issho, Cherry Blossum Party (1745), Tsukimaro "Five Beauties" (1825), Hiroshige, Great Wave (1847), Buncho, Scene of Echigoya at Suruga (1815)

Enchanted Worlds at the Auckland Art Gallery

Enchanted Worlds: Hokusai, Hiroshige and the Art of Edo Japan

Auckland Art Gallery

Until June 1

Auckland Art Gallery’s Enchanted Worlds: Hokusai, Hiroshige and the Art of Edo Japan features more than 70 art works from Japan’s Edo period (1603–1868).including silk paintings, scrolls, folding screens and woodblock prints.

Included in the exhibition are some of the most popular artists of the period, including Katsushika Hokusai, Andō Hiroshige, Kitagawa Utamaro and Keisai Eisen.

Japanese artists did not approach their work as Western artist of the time did. Perspective, trompe L’oeil and chiaroscuro were avoided with an emphasis more on flat colours, shadowless figures, the outline and costumes with stylised designs.

Most of the works in the exhibition are described as Ukiyo-e or pictures of the floating world a genre which flourished from the 17th through to the 19th century. The subject of these prints and paintings were female beauties; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna. One notable popular subject area, that of erotica is not included in the exhibition.

This art of the Floating World was intended to depict the new cosmopolitan Japan, a world of play and entertainment in the three main cities of (Edo [Tokyo], Osaka, and Kyoto). It was also thought of as a state of mind or a characteristic spirit of the sophisticated town dwellers The participants focused particularly upon the pleasure quarters and entertainment districts. These areas of play were a ritualized milieu offering escape for the increasingly powerful merchant class.

In many ways some of these works parallel the work of the Dutch Baroque painters of the same period who also painted and were commissioned to paint scenes of urban life. The large “Banquet with Music in the former Yoshiwara” shows the artist depicting a range of activities, courtesans and visitors to the temple and gardens .

Works like this take a complex approach to the creation of space and the depiction of individuals and objects. In many cases they are similar to European works of the Trecento but in other ways they are more sophisticated in the levels of abstraction, refined use of colour and stylisation.

There are interesting works which show other aspects of contemporary urban social life as with Chounsai Eishi’s “Women resting in the Votive Picture Hall of Asakusa” where the artist has provided portraits of individuals who have a more naturalistic appearance and interaction with each other.

Later works in the collection indicate a Western influence with the depiction of city life seen in Kawaha Keiya’s “Bustling Scenes of City Life”.

A number of works are of individual females as with Kaigetsudo Ando’s “Standing Beauty” or Utamaro’s “Beauty Reading a Letter” These portraits are stylised in the depiction of faces, gestures and costumes.

There are iconic depictions of popular and seasonal landmarks, including paintings of snow-capped Mount Fuji, waterfalls, rivers and blossoming trees. There are paintings where the depictions of animals connect with their use as symbols and the imaginary realms of myth and legend. Among these is Hokusai’s “Moon and Rabbit” where a very Peter Rabbit – like image depicts an ancient Buddhist tale.

The most famous of Japanese prints “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”, by Hokusai is not in the exhibition but an equally impressive version by Hiroshige is included.

There are two large contemporary digital artworks which build on and complement the traditional works in the exhibition. One of the by contemporary artist Tabaimo “The Obscuring Moon,” uses an image from an 1857 Hiroshige woodblock print, and populates it with writhing octopus arms, and surreal silhouettes.

The other digital work is by the art collective teamLab is the video “Four season, a 1000 Years Terraced Rice Fields”. It uses the scenery of the Tashibunosho area, a typical rice growing area in which the people and the changes time of days are depicted with littler figures moving across the “wood block” landscape with the light changing as the sun rises and then sets through the day.

The exhibition is a great overview of Japanese art but also interesting to make comparison with Western art and the parallel but separate developments of the time. It is also useful to compare how art is made, what it depicts and to what purpose.

Cameron Rhodes (Garfield Todd) and Steady (Simbarashe Matshe)

Black Lover at ATC; Humanity and Humour, Inequality and Friendship

Black Lover by Stanley Makuwe

Auckland Theatre Company

Q Theatre

Until April 4

The colonial history of Africa has many parallels to that of New Zealand in relation to land, governance and human rights and a new play, Black Lover by Stanley Makuwe at Q Theatre highlights these aspects and the tragic history of Zimbabwe and the way it evolved. Central to the country’s history and to the play is New Zealander Sir Garfield Todd.

He was born in Invercargill, emigrated to Southern Rhodesia in 1934 as a missionary and ran a Mission school where one of his pupils was Robert Mugabe. He was a member of the colonial parliament and became Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia in 1953 but because of his liberal views was forced out of parliament .

Out of power, he became increasingly critical of white minority rule and was an outspoken opponent of Ian Smith's 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom. Todd applied for an exit visa to lead a teach-in at the University of Edinburgh on the inequities of white rule. The Rhodesian government banned his emigration, placing him under house arrest.

It is at this point that Black Lovers imagines an encounter between Todd (Cameron Rhodes) with his black family cook, Steady (Simbarashe Matshe).

At one point Todd reads from the speech which he was to deliver about the plight of the black population in Rhodesia, a speech his daughter, Judith would be delivering shortly in Edinburgh.

This is one of the few polemical speeches in the play although there is some intense dialogues between the two men including an enraged outburst by Steady about white oppression and savagery.

Much of the time the inequalities between white and black are expressed in simple, personal exchanges and events. There is Steady’s discomfort at being asked to drink tea and eat cake with Todd as an equal, an event which more amusing than political.

The play also touches on the ingrained subservient nature of the relationship between white and black. Even between between Todd and his servant there is an uneasiness to their relationship and the idea of a black having access to cake is seen by Steady as a violation of the codes of apartheid.

Their conversations also touch on the role of women, religion, God and repentance with Steady stating that he knows that the church is “The black man’s death trap”.

Cameron Rhodes captures the character of Todd brilliantly, a man weary and worried, concerned for others rather than himself, wanting Steady to be an equal but never able to bridge the gap.

Matshe as Steady is able to convey the internal conflicts between submitting to the apartheid state and aspiring to a better life and self-determination.

Stanley Makuwe provides conversations ranging from the simple to the raw and emotional in which the political and the personal are threaded together creating a play which is sensitive and revealing of human relationships as well as the dangers of social and political inequality.

The play opens with the mingled sounds of classical music playing on the radio and the sounds of Africa in the air alluding to the mix of the two cultures of European and African. But for much of the play it is the sounds of gunfire and explosions which enclose and threaten the two men.

At just over an hour this is a superbly crafted play, rich and concise in its dialogues, ideas and emotional engagement. It is a play which allows us to reflect on a history which we have known and observed, at distance but now resonates with contemporary relevance.

Mark Hadlow (Barry) and Alison Quigan (Gen) in Winding Up. Andi Crown Photography (image)

Roger Hall's "Winding Up": Full of keen observation and incisive wit

Winding Up by Sir Roger Hall

Auckland Theatre Company

ASB Waterfront Theatre

Until March 8

Then Hamilton, Hastings, New Plymouth and Tauranga

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

There are probably a number of older couples who suspect that Roger Hall has installed a listening device in their home, recoding their daily lives – the big moments as well as the trivial.

In his latest play Winding Up he has managed to capture the essence of the lives of retired couples in a perceptive play full of keen observation and incisive wit.

In the play we meet Barry (Mark Hadlow) and Gen (Alison Quigan) who we encountered thirty years ago in the playwright’s Conjugal Rites. Now in their seventies, living in an apartment complex they are at new stage in their lives – planning overseas trips, coping with the problems of older children, dealing with their aging bodies and the body corporate.

There are also the minor issues of decluttering books and clothes, finding and using the technology – phones, smart watches and hearing aids as well as coping with the reading of instruction booklets.

The enjoyment of the play is not in a string of great jokes and clever punch lines though. Halls mere observation of people, seeing the humour in everyday interchanges and the banality of life makes the play relevant and comical. For Barry even a death in the family is good news and Gen’s attempt to get health insurance is more challenging than an appearance on The Chase.

Many in the audience were not laughing at the characters on stage but at seeing themselves parodied. There were times when couples in the audience would glance knowingly at each other at particularly sharp comments.

The several sequences around funerals, attending them and planning them allows for some black humour including a rant by Barry addressed to God for the creator’s lack of understanding of his predicament.

With all the reminiscing about the past and the funerals there is a great selection of music ranging from the Gluck’s soulful Orpheus and Eurydice, Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face to an off-key singing of Danny Boy. The music which adds another dimension to the characters also provides an emotional backdrop which enhances the play.

Hadlow and Quigan are a great team nicely pacing the comedy as well as expertly using body language in their physical encounters. They manage to invest their character with a real sense of personality, individuals who we recognise and understand .

Like his other plays the characters are stereotypes and much of the dialogue is clichéd, but they are New Zealand stereotypes and it is the idiom of our own vernacular. Which we can engage with. It is this familiarity which makes our responses both excruciating as well as sympathetic.

Marian Fountain, Here and There. & Mother Earth (interior). John Blackburn, Mountain Form & Ark

Marian Fountain & John Blackburn, Parallel Reflections

Marian Fountain & John Blackburn

Parallel Reflections

Artis Gallery

Until February 23

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

The Paris based New Zealand artist Marian Fountain who recently created a memorial to the Wellington Quarry Museum at Arras has opened a new exhibition at Artis Gallery.

The work in the exhibition all relate to notions of the beginnings of life and ideas. She sees and explores connections between the beginnings of human life, plant life and the birth of ideas.

At its simplest this idea is seen in “Dancing Chromosomes” ($8850) the two ‘dancing’ objects are like small diagrammatic sculptures of the structure of DNA.The there is “Germination” ($7250), depicting a seed with the emergence of a shoot which is both organic as well as like a human form.

There are other works around this theme with “Vertical Pod” ($8250) like a large bean pod. a budding form with “Petite Pousse” ($6300) and a more developed plant with ”Green Fingers” ($10,850).

Works around the idea of human birth and development can be seen with the large “Mother Earth” ($13,500) which is like a large breast plate. The back / inside of this work acts as a shelter for dozens of small heads and swarms of chromosome shapes.

Then there is the large female / goddess work “Squeeze” ($17,500). These and similar works owe much to the prehistoric works like the Venus of Willendorf and indicate the artists referring back to the birth of sculpture.

The works which refer to the genesis of ideas has its culmination in “Becoming Conscious” ($11,600), a work which she had been commissioned to produce addressing the idea of mindfulness. The work consists of several bubbles or thought capsules with two small figures contemplating a search for meaning. A similar work “Here and There” ($5500) is also a contemplation on the nature and creation of ideas.

Also showing at the gallery is John Blackburn whose works show the artist grappling with approaches to juxtaposing texture, colour, forms and surface. The paintings which merge architecture, landscape and atmosphere, create works which hint at subtle narratives and environments.

They range from the almost ethereal “White Solitude” ($3500) to the boisterous “Sunset Harmony” ($26,000) Blackburn employs a limited number of shapes or forms some of which are variations on the basic shapes of triangle, circle and square, but mainly he use a simple curved shape which can be read as a cup, a hill or even some animal shell or skin. It is also a boat shape, and this is obvious with the work “Ark” ($7500) where a large protective curved shape encloses several smaller shapes

His use of colour is sparing but when he does use it as in ”Red Sunset” ($4250) it is to dramatic effect while in others such as “Retracting Sea” ($10,500) the colour has an airy delicacy.

Along with the landscape / abstract shaped works there are other which are used to create a sensation of tension as with the diptych “Fire Painting ($7500) and “Fire Painting – small ($3000) a work where the artist has used actual smoke to create the work.

With some of the smaller works such as “Mountain Form” ($3500) , “Storm Cloud” ($3500) and “Forms Touching” ($3500) the shapes, colour and texture come together in works where observation and abstraction mesh.

John Turner: A Life in Photographs

John B Turner, Library and Laboratory

Bowerbank Ninow

Until February 22

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

John Turner has been one of New Zealand’s most important contemporary photographer not just for his photographic skills. He is also a critic, teacher, researcher and collector. For many years he was a lecturer at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland and was also founder of the photographers’ cooperative, PhotoForum.

His work is in all major public and private collections and he recently donated his substantial archive to the Auckland Art Gallery. It is an unparalleled collection that reflects his 60-year involvement in photography.

The current exhibition of his work, “Library and Laboratory” at Bowerbank Ninow provides an overview of Turner’s work as well as his own collection of photographs His photography is essentially documentary but across a range of themes and interests.

Some capture moments others are more considered. In many works he documented the natural environment and the built environment, with others it is the domestic environment. There are many which are records of his family and personal life.

All of these build a collection which creates a history of our times as well as of the individual, his relationships, journeys and interests as well as being an historic record of place and time. There are also many works which show a quirky observational approach as well as a visual wit and keen sense of narrative.

Turners personal life is seen in works such as images of his parents “Mal and Freda Turner” ($1800), the poignant “My Birth Mother’s file, Porirua Hospital” ($1600) as well as the only self-portrait, an image of him in bed with a lover in “Self Portrait, Thorndon, Wellington” ($1400)

The record of his journey through the physical environment includes “Lucy’s Fish Shop, Mount Eden” ($1200), one of series he took of shops and buildings in the Mount Eden / Kingsland area where he lived for some time.

Then there are images of domestic interiors of places where he lived, visited or worked such as “Ross’s Bedroom, Lower Hutt” ($1800), “Kitchen Cupboards, Lower Hutt” ($1400) and “Photographers Office, Dominion Museum, Wellington” ($1600.)

Then there are the images of Nature ,observations of the textures and light of Nature with the striated rock of “Ngaio Gorge” ($1600),and the tree bark of “Pohutukawa, Dominion Museum” ($1400).

There are also a collection of more whimsical works with “Drain pipe, Tory Street, Wellington” ($1200) and the surrealist toilet seat in “Lavatory, Paparangi” ($1400).

Another section of the photographers work hints at in his personal photographic collection with “My Print of Edward Weston’s Civilian Defence . (1942) in shattered frame”. ($2000).

This famous image of the great American photographer is one of the many photographs in John Turner’s personal collection of local and international photographers.

That image of Weston’s “Civilian Defence” is probably the most valuable in the exhibition along with George Silk’s two works, “Tokyo bath house ($7000) and “Diver at Princeton University’s Dillon Gym Pool ($6000).

There are a couple of other international photographers in the collection including William Garnett’s “Salt #1 Death Valley 1954 ($3000) and Shigeru Takato “Holmes” ($1200).

The collection of other photographers forms a comprehensive overview of New Zealand photography from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

The major nineteenth century New Zealand photographers such as the Burton Brothers and James Valentine are represented and there are several early urban views of Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington as well as images of settlements and events from the late nineteenth century including some images of the White Terraces by unknown photographers ($400).

Photographers of the twentieth century are well represented: There are three of Theo Schoon’s mud pool works ($1600 - $2600), Robin Morrison is represented with four works ($800 - $1000), Glenn Busch, four works ($800 - $1300) and four Peter Peryers ($2000 -$3000).

There are a number of brilliant individual works such as Les Cleveland’s dilapidated “The European Hotel, Charleston, Westland” ($1500) Megan Jenkinson’s “Maketu Hot Pools II” ($800) and Gary Baigent’s “Christian Spiritualist, Newton” ($600)

Grace Bader, Untitled 10

Grace Bader and the New Cubism

Grace Bader, Recent Paintings

Melanie Roger Gallery

Until February 22

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

Grace Bader’s exhibition at the Melanie Roger Gallery looks as though the artist has come from an encounter with Picasso and Braque, creating a new offshoot of Cubism.

This new look at Cubism seems also to reference the earlier work of New Zealand artists such as Louise Henderson.

The works which are painted in subdued colours – ochres, greens, blues and red are rendered over a gesso surface which has a heavily applied impasto. These boards seem as though could be recycled from a previous purpose, the random clumps and swathes of underpainting unrelated to the artists overpainting.

Like the early cubists Bader approaches her subjects in an effort to depict three-dimensions on a flat surface breaking up the objects into many different shapes and planes, repainting them from a different perspective.

This investigation of the Cubist legacy, reinventing the ideas around abstraction allows for a new understanding of the painting process and of the links between observation and invention.

Her subjects are mainly of figures and still lifes, though In some cases, the distinction is blurred with many of the works having a degree of abstraction.

The figurative works include ones which have the monumentality of a landscape such as Untitled 4, ($1000) while with Untitled 2 ($2500) there is a sense of a figure in movement, and in Untitled 1 ($2500) the figure is facetted making it a multi layered portrait.

With some of the works the heavy impasto appears to have been used by the artist to emphasis aspects of the painting such as in Untitled 3 ($2500)where the vertical lines provide emphasis to the figurative forms and in Untitled 10 ($4000) the ridge of paint gives three dimensional quality to a cup.

Most of the works consist of flat intersecting planes but with the occasional work such as Untitled 11 ($1500) the work a has the appearance of collage with patterned coloured area contrasting with monochrome shapes.

With all these works there is a combination of a reworking of Cubism as well as an emphasis on the tactile nature of painting along with an ambivalence and tension between the depiction of the reality of the objects and their abstracted shapes.