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.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mellow yellow

Fiona Gillmore: From yellow - black
Newcall Gallery
29 April - 20 May 2008

When you walk into the gallery (from the stairs on the outside of the Newcall building) the object of your attention appears to be a large horizontal wall painted a pale yellow. A pastel, rich creamy yellow that is devoid of the hint of blue that would make it a cold lemon. It's like a custard milkshake or artificial banana flavouring.

You stroll around the austere white walled room a little, and perhaps chat to your friends and the friendly artist who is looking after the gallery. Then it gradually dawns on you that you are looking at a DVD projection. No paint at all is involved. And the chroma is very very slowly changing.

Actually I’m not sure if it is the chroma that is changing, or the degree of saturation. I think that the later is the case. And that in daylight hours the slow bleeding away of strong colour, the loss of intensity of hue over forty minutes, leaves an anaemic mid-tone grey, a sort of dirty white. That is all you will see with the natural light coming in from the windows. The original wall colour underneath the projection.

The work is called From yellow – black. I think that title applies to seeing the work at night. You will certainly see nothing like black in daylight hours.

When the projected banana yellow is at its max, you are struck by the beauty of the wall proportions. The wall is of two partitions butted together, so a little over a quarter of it is left alone, unilluminated, on the left of the wall join. The optical changes are at a seemingly ‘natural’ speed, like the crepuscular onslaught of night which can startle with its rapidity. The work reminds me of James Turrell who uses natural light brought in through a hidden skylight to be seen through a perfect rectangle cut in the gallery wall. Gillmore’s shifts though (created on a computer) are faster, especially when experienced in broad daylight.

If you are patient and contemplative in temperament, fascinated by colour and want to experience art that is extremely subtle, visit the Newcall Gallery. It’ll make you think later about how you perceive commonplace natural phenomena, and you’ll discover an exciting new experimental space near the Khyber Pass / Symonds St corner.

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