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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weighty sculpture nicely grouped

David McCracken: New works
Gow Langsford
27 January - 20 February 2010

The six large Corten, galvanised and stainless steel sculptures presented here in Gow Langsford by David McCracken are created to be usually seen in isolation - often outdoors, surrounded by grassy expanses and perhaps trees. Yet this show is in essence an installation, for the conventional gallery environs with its high white walls and polished concrete floor is vital for seeing this group of carefully made, very heavy objects at their best.

The reason is not only in the obviously considered manner they are laid out to take advantage of the gallery’s spatial dimensions, but in the way sets can be discovered with different tactile and formal qualities. They make up a tight matrix of interconnected shapes, surfaces and production methods.

Three refer to the textured non-slipping metal plates found on manhole covers with a grid of raised, diagonally aligned, squashed vesica piscis shapes. McCracken has fattened them up, waxed and sometimes rusted them.

Two others are long low arches, like flattened but curved macaroni: one square in cross section, the other circular; one shiny and polished, the other matt and rusted; one with cuts on the upper curved side, the other with cuts along its underbelly; one draped over a low wall that you squeeze past in order to enter the gallery space, the other on the floor in a distant corner and aligned in parallel to the first.

Two works are also based on sphere forms, one pear-shaped and stretched like an inverted, textured tear; the other a polished ball that has split like a dry piece of wood so that vertical ‘wounds’ with dark inner walls break up its unified, shiny curved surface.

This is an enjoyable show to move around and amongst, especially in terms of its reflective and rusted surfaces, and imposing forms that pressure the co-ordinates of your soft circumnavigating body’s trajectory. Even though, as sculptural practice goes, this sort of ‘masculinist’ sculpture is dated – especially since Arte Provera, Fluxus, Conceptualism and Relational Aesthetics - this presentation with its ‘truth–to–materials’ modernist ethos is somehow refreshing as a bodily, highly palpable experience. Though occasionally inconsistent (sometimes the means of vertical support are exposed, sometimes they are hidden) this is a fine exhibition to wander and viscerally think through.

2 comments:

Kim Finnarty said...

happy new year to you.

A bit of a sketchy review this one; I would be reluctant to call an exhibition of sculpture an installation. The rationale for the use of the term is in the similarity of scale and material in the show, I think these are more the characteristics of a focused sculptural practice.

John Hurrell said...

You have a point, Kim, but the placement was very considered. More than just discrete items plonked on the floor. However it certainly wasn't an installation in the usual sense of the word - as a unified spatial experience.
More different elements interconnecting.