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, July 9, 2009

A 'story'...

André Hemer: The real bad painter and the story of everything in real time
Antoinette Godkin
8 July - 1 August 2009

Flush irony down the dunny and listen: André Hemer is not usually a ‘real bad painter’; he normally is a very good one. But this is a dreadful installation. No doubt about it.

The reasons are formal. The visual dynamic of parallel striped lines placed on a large wall (the optical rush they create) kills any paintings hung there – even if some reflexively refer to their own installation. They are impossible to look at with such a backdrop. It creates nausea.

Hemer nevertheless has some good works here: those that are round or oval and without any parallel lines. You can enjoy the pool of masked painted or negative shapes that he likes to repeat: the slashing stroke lines or flicked on masked drips. The way the different complicated elements all interweave and lock in together. Hemer is very good at that – at making painted objects that intrigue.

His awful hang reminds me of Judy Millar’s first installation in a New Gallery show curated by Robert Leonard. Some of the massive paintings were the best works she has ever made, but the installation - with the partially painted walls behind them – was appalling. However for her the show was part of a learning process of how to jump from making discrete paintings to making installations that lash out at architecture. There was a logic that gradually came to reveal itself – even though she still straddles both sensibilities. But she got a lot better at subverting interior space.

Maybe this exhibition is transitional for Hemer. That he is heading in a particular direction, searching for an as yet unarticulated discovery. As his title says: a story to be unfolded in real time.

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