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, May 21, 2009

Body Artist

Campbell Patterson: Ambient 3
6 May - 23 May 2009

This Newcall show is a variation of the exhibition Campbell Patterson had at Michael Lett’s last year. Lots of moving image, some paintings, and unlike Lett , a couple of sculptures.

Patterson is known for his videos. Despite his goofy bushy-tailed enthusiasm and overt - yet charming- narcissism his recorded performances (private activities involving only himself) wear thin after a while.

Climbing around the fittings of a hotel bathroom whilst clinging to the walls and not touching the floor; chewing up several pottles of fried chips, never swallowing the mush and then calming placing the accumulated chomped up sludge into a paper bag; clambering up over a sedan and a station-wagon parked head to tail, slithering like a snake over their roofs and bonnets and wearing only undies so as not to scratch the paint: these activities only initially amuse as a sort of domestic gymnastics. They are similar in many ways to the works of Steve Carr but without the obvious gags. Patterson tries for giggles whilst avoiding overt humour.

As his Lett exhibition showed,Patterson is a gifted painter.There is a beautifully made grey work in this exhibition that is very unusual. Within a dominant pattern he has incorporated the leaf and flower motifs of a brand of toilet paper alongside curving lines of tablets. Nearby on a wall two such referenced toilet rolls prop up a large Perspex sheet. On this other work are positioned in two rows of thirty stamped loyalty cards – all used up with twelve freshly made fruit juices drunk for each.

Such a panel tells a bodily focused narrative, 360 drinks imbibed and (as implied with the toilet paper) partially expelled. It tells a story more succinctly than any video could. It seems Patterson works better away from filmed documentation of actions.

It is no surprise then that his artist’s statement at Newcall, a sheet of writing describing its own production processes and created while he was taking a shower, is the best item in the show. This artist has a real instinct for language and keeping it fresh. He knows how to adapt, shape and effectively pace his written thoughts, thoroughly keep track of all his various senses, and incorporate precise detail.

Few artists have that ability. (Tahi Moore does - but he is more about processes of interiority). Perhaps Patterson will develop this writing talent further. The next show will tell.

No comments: