Thursday, September 3, 2009
Helen Calder: yellow orange red black
City Art Rooms
2 September – 26 September 2009
Here we have an unusual show of ‘paintings’ by Helen Calder. However first of all before I start, let me state that I show at City Art Rooms, that Calder is a personal friend, and that she was my co-dealer in Christchurch. So you can treat what I say with suspicion if you wish. That is perfectly understandable.
Yet see for yourselves. These works are very strange, like pelts or hides in a curing shed: smooth rubbery skins of thick chewy paint that glisten - and are covered with delicate striations, stretchmarks, flecks and wrinkles. They are spread over bending stainless steel rods held to the wall with small brackets. True fetish objects that are pure sensation, that you long to touch and rub up against. Each a beckoning surface that is about one and a quarter metres wide, that is almost without any support at all, that has nothing behind it – that is all surface.
Their being draped over the rods means that you can see two drooping, glossy, undulating planes: a near one with convex edges, the other distant surface with concave. And folds in the middle of the rod where the ‘fabric’ is bunched up to form a hint of a vertical line. Some lower edges have a little ribbonlike tail hanging loose.
For Calder these works seem wilder than what she normally presents. Looser figuratively and looser literally. From painted surfaces that have been flayed in some hideously gruesome ritual to extract a trophy. Bizarre animal parts of acrylic and enamel peeled off and left hanging out to dry.