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 11, 2008

Unusual 'abstraction'

Salvatore Panatteri
Rm 103, Achilles House
10 September – 4 October 2008

Sydney artist Salvatore Panatteri has a room in R103 in which he is showing two works on two walls, each an arrangement of 4-5 green and black rectangular panels fronted by clear acrylic. These minimal works are similar in style to the image above from another show. They are related to digital photography using the reproductive process as a kind of readymade. Small black squares are set in vivid green fields, like road markings, crenellations or pixels.

The colour process is Chroma Key on anodized aluminium. The works are intended as a sort of abstraction that is also a critique of individuality. Chroma Key is the method in film or television where a special masking background behind a ‘moving’ figure is used for the insertion other backdrops later. In Panatteri’s hands it seems a metaphor for social context or historical background.

As individual units or as sets, there is little effective dynamic of placement, no nuance of compositional setting. The lines and their alignments lack tension. The artist appears not to be interested in such visual appeal, perhaps because that would contradict his premise denying creative innovation outside the social.

Wonderful to have this Australian project here, but visually and conceptually (in my view) it seems lacklustre. I can’t get too excited about this ideational gesture. However next week Panatteri participates in a group show at Newcall with Julian Dashper and Simon Ingram. I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out. In this show three quite different artists will be put together showing three chronologically spaced apart works each. A unusual combination.

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