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, September 25, 2008

Last gasp?

Julie Ross
16 September - 11 October 2008

The heads of rabbits or hares attached to human bodies or in forms wearing human clothing seems to fascinate many artists. They serve as a metaphor for a range of qualities, from garrulousness (‘rabbiting’ on), fertility, promiscuity and colonization. Artists depicting them include Michael Parekowhai, David Lynch, Barry Flanagan, Paul Johns and now Julie Ross.

Ross’s prints are very cleavinesque. Barry Cleavin plays a big role in her aesthetic, but not in her content which is not (unlike him) particularly witty. Hare heads are attached to people within a wide range of largely Renaissance masterpieces that she obviously wants her audience to recognise.

But what does it all add up to? Spot the German in a group of Italians? Pick the decade? Or is it an overwhelming obsession, a lifelong affection for long-eared mammals that nibble – and she can’t help herself. A Lepus infatuation.

The work is really about the craft of printmaking rather than conceptual ideas or the nature of art history or investigating art itself. It’s a possibly tragic fixation based on the pleasure of making a certain sort of image - one that is currently perceived as antiquated - and the production of which seems to be now disappearing with ever-increasing rapidity.

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