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.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Aotearoa / Poland site collaborations

Daniel Malone and Ralph Paine
Make History Poverty
Gambia Castle
12 September – 4 October 2008

Daniel Malone is a well known New Zealand performance artist linked with the Auckland collective Teststrip in the early nineties, now living in Poland, and here collaborating with his old friend in Auckland, Ralph Paine - best known for some shows in ARTSPACE and in SIAP projects in Christchurch.

This Gambia Castle presentation has a published essay for sale in the office and some Malone drawings from a recent exhibition in Poland, and most of the exhibition in the front gallery. There are five sections: two separate groups of works on paper from Malone and Paine individually; a collaborative screenprint; collaborative drawings; collaborative paintings made of stitched fabric.

Paine showed a large body of drawings a couple of years ago in RAMP in Hamilton and his current solo works (watercolour and gouache) are not so graphically loose (being more wash based, less linear, less hatched). In the context of Gambia Castle they are oddly conservative and illustrative, inclined towards nineteenth century social realism, and without the use of written theoretical language which is usually a Paine characteristic. Their clusters of figurative imagery and saturated transparent colours bring a sensuousness rarely seen in this space.

Malone’s Polish drawings are frottages referencing the revolutionary rhetoric of Situationism and the events of May 68, and the surface textures of streets (flagstones and manhole covers) as weapons. They have a different flavour from his older Auckland works with their references to pop consumerism and nomadism.

When working together these artists create an effective synthesis more dynamic than that found in their solo elements. The screenprint, Delivery, with the text ‘we the artists’, not only references Billy Apple colours but his reflexive concept of artwork as a hyper-aestheticised receipt – though this time in plural and with a wonderfully elegant cursive script.

The collaborative drawings (Two Cities: One World) show Paine’s slogans added to by Malone. They are the highlight of the show, for Paine seems to have inspired exceptional inventiveness from his friend in the diversity of his added references (eg. Latin texts, maps, stickers)and the way they interact. The stitched canvases of black denim and felt, with their blending of Debord with Beuys, are a tad domestic and bland. They lack the physical scale and rawness to be truly memorable.

This exhibition is well worth seeing. The evocative collaborative drawings in particular are very special.

No comments: