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.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Two out of seven

Anya Henis
Jungle television
Newcall Gallery
20 August - 6 September

There are seven ‘realist’ paintings by Henis at Newcall. Some work, some don’t. There’s one work that avoids a spectral range, Texas, that is brilliant - of brown arches in a sort of cathedral. It is sculpturally modelled and very focussed in terms of palette. Just wonderful. Most of the show though, is all over the place.

Of the rest, some indicate that she has painted what she sees and not what she knows, and are like collages in their textured treatment of walls without shadows - accompanied by floating, super intense bright skies. The perspective is not accompanied by modelling shadows so the planar shapes don’t sit properly on the picture plane.

Love Hotel though, is a success, an image of a tiled corner in a Japanese hotel lobby with plants and palms. Symmetrical with plainly coloured ovals set against detailed fine brushwork, it succeeds because of its balance.

The two works I have praised here are well worth seeing and quite special. The other five, forget.

This exhibition is accompanied by a text by Harold Grieves that tells you all about the erudition of the writer and bugger all about the art. Flatulent yet dense with literary references, it is preoccupied with narrative with no grasp of how the images are constructed. Like a lot of art writing these days that young graduates seem to love (because it flatters) it is useless.

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