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, July 10, 2008

Changing Fraser

Jacqueline Fraser: Topless (The Hustler and Superstars)
Michael Lett
9 July - 9 August 2008

Looking at this show, the title work (at the top) is obviously a key ingredient. It seems to be telling us where this artist is heading now, for a global political sensibility is breaking into the privileged pampered hermeticism she is famous for satirising, bringing with it a sense of the filmic – a hint of the sixties French ‘new wave’.

Fraser seems to be getting sick of bored unhappy party girls and their fashion obsessed lifestyle. Her large sculptural collages are moving away from Warhol as inspiration towards (for example) Don Driver and his obsessions. More than Driver’s skin/hair fetish / collage is involved though. While introducing a dramatic use of black and white with torn paper edges, and occasional swathes of mushy grey paint, she is also letting delicate nuances of photographed outdoor colour creep in to replace the wham bam/thank you ma’m garish fabrics. One can almost taste the cool fresh air (admittedly with a whiff of Louise Lawler ‘Nam cordite mixed in). Perversely the hooded black pimps and their bronzed white bitches are ushering in a new beyond.

However there is still plenty of the old one here too, with its magazine baby doll pouts and beribboned pooches - alongside synthetic wigs, chiffon dresses and bridal veils. It all impresses. Drenched in the sarcasm of Fraser’s over-wrought catty titles.

Many people are talking of a new optimism and political awareness present in the States right now (where Fraser lives), reflecting hopes of Barrack Obama’s election. And this has been understood as being part of the Whitney Biennial too. It is part of that same buoyant mood that seems apparent in the newer content of Fraser’s work. The drug-addled, paranoid, claustrophobic subject-matter is starting to disappear.


knitty gritty said...

My daughter (a 5ht form student) is looking for information about one of Jacqueline Fraser's works 'Ko Otakou te Kaika'. Could you point us in the right direction.

Rebekah Ward (Ashlee's Mum)

John Hurrell said...

Hi Rebekah,
I think if she wrote to the curator at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery or to Michael Lett Gallery they would happily answer any questions she might have.