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, March 6, 2008

Don't apologise

Martin Poppelwell: Please excuse the mess
Anna Bibby, Auckland
4th March - 22nd March 2008

The last two spaces of Anna Bibby’s were particularly striking as places to visit to enjoy her chosen artists, yet this new Jervois Rd venue is just so forgettable. It‘s hard to imagine it is the same dealer. While on an obvious level this is clearly not my business, the building's pokey, mousey ambience affects a visitor’s perception of the art. It makes no effort to excite.

And Martin Poppelwell is normally a whizzo draftsman, clever designer and wonderful ceramicist but this is a lacklustre show. (For any space.) The paintings are typically eclectic - Tom Kreisler here, Carroll Dunham there, dashes of Guston thrown in – but holey-moley, the display lacks focus. It’s a jumble of bits. Not a mess though – just disparate.

However the small etchings are interesting with their garbled texts, geometric shapes and delicate detail. A room of them alone would have been great. They and the ceramics represent Poppelwell’s truest voice.

One of the two calligraphic pots has written on it: bad artists always admire each other’s work. You can say a lot about that statement, which implies good artists are somehow different, but they are not, are they?

So whom is Poppelwell thinking of as ’bad’? Kreisler, Guston and Dunham were/are very good artists, right? So while he has gifts….

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