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.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recent and not so recent cutouts

Richard Killeen: Cutouts 1981 - 2008
Ivan Anthony
4 February - 28 February 2009

In this wonderful little show six cutouts give you the chance to see how Killeen has explored not only different ways of organising ‘narrative’ or ‘literal’ subject matter under various titles, or exploited emotional mood, but also to examine his experiments with scale, number, surface, shape, line and pigment saturation. The clusters of painted, shaped, aluminium components are surprisingly varied.

His emotional content achieves different tones. Dew (1996) is a meditation on death and grieving, in particular the loss of his friend, the artist Gordon Walters. Sunset, Sunrise (2000) is very different. It is celebratory and buoyant, about the pleasures of the sun and its consistent diurnal course, and how we bodily respond to it. Each image is like a syntactical phrase in a sentence.

Other works are more cerebral, and contemplate the mechanics of certain verbs like that of ‘flying’ or ‘punctuating’. Using only three shapes, Three Fliers (2008) makes us ponder the wonders of aerial motion as achieved by insects, aircraft and birds. Punctuation Space makes written language’s structuring marks into three-dimensional forms, chunky solid glyphs that hover in space waiting for sequences of letters to accompany them.

Insect Inside (1997) explores Killeen’s continual obsession with insects, showing us his love of drawing and a whimsical graphic style that is distinctive even in his early Realist paintings. Tools and Instruments (1981) has a delicate brusherly surface imposed on its large jagged shapes. It makes us wonder what kind of tool, what sort of instrument, could create such turbulent, sweepingly expressive marks that contradict the restraining angular contours.

If you ever missed Killeen’s touring survey, Stories We Tell Ourselves, or would like to see some more variations, this is a nice opportunity. It is so different from the digital mages he is currently making.

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