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, April 30, 2009

Ersatz forces of nature

Murray Green: Hook, Line and Sinker
Two Rooms
16 April – 16 May 2009

These works by Murray Green subvert the modernist notion of ‘truth to materials’. They celebrate ‘untruths’, a repertoire of false plastic drips, oozing viscous trickles and hovering brushstrokes – created by covering fibreglass casts with coloured varnish-like resin. His practice is related to the production processes of Andre Hemer in the sense that just as Hemer undermines gestural spontaneity, Green fakes the vicissitudes of nature and gravity. Both use repeatable units to construct an ersatz spontaneity.

In some small panels Green exploits the degrees of opacity in translucent resin, playing with the notion of time so that ‘brushmarks’ seem to be naturally situated in an advancing chronological sequence that in hindsight you later realise is faked.

Other large ‘drippy’ panels are like prints with waves of trickles duplicated in several reshuffled variations. The best have a dominant tone that is not oscilating between light and dark but consistently even, the most successful being the very dark ones. They have a psychological presence where there is a sense of ominous stormy weather, crashing phosphorescent waves, or even staves of musical notes at work.

That overt theatricality – corny though it may be – gets your attention. Despite his unusual method, Green needs such a device if he is to avoid the vapid, or suggestions that his work is ‘designy’ or intellectually thin. Utilizing a sense of the histrionic helps achieve that. It introduces paradox when a palette suggests turmoil or mental agitation whilst the method in fact is clearly the opposite.

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