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, July 23, 2008

Auckland permutation

Julia Morison: Myriorama
Two Rooms
3 July - 9 August 2008

At Two Rooms Julia Morison presents a second permutation of her newest project, Myriorama, the first being in April at 64zero3 in Christchurch. The title refers to a Victorian picture-card game where a landscape has eighteen components that can be recomposed in a line with a continuous horizon. With seemingly infinite possibilities. Morison can create at least eighteen sorts of repeatable panel. These can be recombined according to the needs of each gallery space.

In Christchurch the work in one room was linked up to form two looping, twisting fat worms, with nodding dancing heads. These were joined on several walls continuously.

Now in Two Rooms’ upstairs gallery, Morison has gone for discrete units that look like flattened cylinders, featuring pinstripes that contain configurations like Celtic/Nordic motifs or slip knots – inserted in different sizes. The colours are delicate blues, greys or cream with a mottled feathery texture –the result of thin ink being applied over gesso. There are also shiny black Perspex panels inserted into the forms.

Compared to her other recent projects, these works are formally simple and restrained: unlike say the wild and decorative extravagance of Gargantua’s Petticoat with its flailing arabesque tendrils. These are subtle spatial teasers where flat shapes can quickly pop into convexly moulded plasticity, and forms that travel around corners suddenly resolve into cohesive spatial masses. The work has tension and verve where she has taken the implications of the edges and flat shapes and contradicted them with wilfully independent internal configurations and linear alignments.

Morison’s Myriorama paintings place intriguing pressures on the rooms they occupy, such as this narrow gallery with its sloping roof and long proportions. They are an unusual combination of formal ornamentation with the shrewd manipulation of a bodily confining space, one that usually shows framed rectangular works. A memorable and exciting treatment for a space that is normally difficult for installational sensibilities. In September Myriorama appears as a third variation in RAMP in Hamilton. There will also be a fourth one in Tauranga.

(With the above photographic images digital technology, one discovers, cannot cope with parallel lines, forming strange moire effects. As I've said, the lines are parallel.)

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