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, November 8, 2008

Fine (in all senses) sculpture

John Ward Knox: Futures
A Centre For Art, Achilles House
22 October - 8 November 2008

John Ward Knox has exhibited about three or four times in Auckland since his graduation a couple of yeas ago and this exhibition here, in the small ACFA space, is by far his most successful. It indicates an interest in the early seventies work of American artist Richard Tuttle, particularly Tuttle’s minimal wall drawings with wire and pencil, and shaped fabric. (Tuttle is also an influence on Julian Dashper’s recent very understated works).

Ward Knox is interesting in the way he has taken Tuttle’s ideas somewhere else, and those of some of his contemporaries, like Sara Rose. Her folded banner, seen on the floor of the George Fraser and altered by visitor interaction, is related to Ward Knox’s show at Newcall where dirt around a rock on the floor was moved by visitors’ feet.

In this current ACFA show, the main work is a thin square of marble set at an angle within the stained floorboards. It peeks through a square hole cut in a large scrunched up piece of felt that alters as visitors flip and fold it around, changing its contours. The warm ‘friendly’ felt is stitched tightly around the ice cold marble slab - creating a wonderful tension with the fabric’s outer edges - and the latter’s speckled streaky patterns resonate with a LED on the wall showing nothing but ‘snow.’

The other work is a piece of wire that is extended by a length of fine gold chain to straddle one of the room’s corners. It makes a delicate, flattened, horizontal S shape. The two pieces (chain/wire corner and marble/felt floor) make a nice spatial combination in the intimate space. There is also a written text (in my view, irrelevant waffle about music) printed on light card and stacked on the floor. Ward Knox's other sculpture though, is very good indeed, by virtue of its subtlety and shrewd combinations of material. Better than his drawings and videos of the past.

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