Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gorgeous scarf

Kit Lawrence
Trackstanding to Ecstasy
Gambia Castle
15 August – 6 September 2008

Kit Lawrence is a rock musician and a painter, but this show is wider: more about cellphone photos of cellphones showing photographs, and other assorted items. And writing. He has written a short play which one can take home and read. An excerpt went out with the email invite.

The expressionist paintings, two chalky, oil on canvas, portraits in the style of Bacon, Dix or Schmidt-Rottluff, look out of place in this context. Lawrence has spread his work out into the Gambia office, but without the paintings those office items in the main space instead could have made the show a lot tighter and crisper. The wall painting on the other hand, of a frowning grey squarehead, because it is large, graphic, and in the style of the photographed smiley circle masks used by Paul Johns in Christchurch, looks great - dominating the room. The ones on the Physics Room website look good too. It would be interesting to see a group of those here.

My favourite work is the beautiful metallic, silvery-grey scarf, knotted and mysteriously abandoned on the dark floor. The fact that it is a small loop, not a scarf that would accidentally slip off somebody’s neck, makes it more enigmatic and coded.

The play MO FO ME appeals because it is so unusual. I admire the idea, drive and skill to do it. However the language is awkwardly dense and stiff, though it does combine angst with calculated humour. We witness a three way conversation between the painter (an Elizabethan Kokoschka), his beloved cat and a cynical observer lurking in the shadows. The painter (‘a knave’) speaks in rambling and pompous soliloquies, as if he were a surrealist who has read a lot of Shakespeare.

The exhibition in general shows Lawrence to be quite unusual in his preoccupations, but not particularly focussed in his structuring of exhibitions. Not the most exciting of Gambia Castle presentations.

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