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, June 5, 2008

Closer than close

Close-up: contemporary contact prints
Gus Fisher
31 May – 5 July 2008

Paul McNamara (of the Wanganui dealership) has selected and organised this touring exhibition of contact prints, featuring nine artists, and the result is impeccable. With the show comes a natty little catalogue containing a nice explanation of what contact prints are by Te Papa’s Athol McCredie, and great comments from the nine contact-printers themselves.

The work is gorgeous, and surprisingly varied. In fact probably more than McNamara intended because Gus Fisher have augmented the show with works from the University of Auckland Collection. That means including enlargements. The show does look spiffy in GF’s awkward oblong room, but McNamara’s concept has been compromised.

Despite the peculiarity of this – you might as well throw McCredie’s commentary in the rubbish tin – one of the interloping works, Mark Adams’ images of Milford Sound, is sensational, and worth all the trouble of a hike down Shortland Street.

As you’d expect, McNamara has his own particular take on these artists. Personally I prefer say Wayne Barrar’s colour work and Joyce Campbell’s underwater images (but they are probably not appropriate), but McNamara's combinations are satisfying. It’s wonderful to see a body of Darren Glass photographs instead of his camera/sculptures and to get a bunch of Haru Sameshima images too. Aberhart is starting to get overexposed in Auckland town now and more Ben Cauchi images would have provided a better balance.

There are lots of very delicately toned, crisp images to marvel about here. Not one to miss.

(See images on the McNamara site. The image above is by Haruhiko Sameshima.)

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