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, June 4, 2009


OK (Hany Armanious, The Estate of L. Budd, Julian Dashper, Richard Frater, Patrick Lundberg, Campbell Patterson)
Curated by Sarah Hopkinson
Michael Lett
27 May - 4 July 2009

The six works from six artists that make up this exhibition - assembled by Sarah Hopkinson - all tend to be understated visually (lots of white), but with plenty going on conceptually. The theme seems to be a vague examination of essences and how we codify phenomena such as ‘identity’.

The voices quoted in the work from The Estate of L. Budd set the stage. Written on a painted wallpaper sheet with a dilapidated hifi speaker sitting on some battered scales on the floor, the quotes deny their own corporeal origins, and initial sense too. Signifier and signified get swapped around, entity and idea, subject and object get reversed so that part of the scrawled text reads: …by the objective reality of an idea I understand the entity or being of the thing represented by the idea, in so far as this entity is in the idea…

Meaning turns to sludge, certainties disappear. Entities transmute into ideas, expand and spread.

OK’s other artworks parallel this slippery amorphousness. Richard Frater has a video of walls made of sugar cubes slowly dissolving in a tank of agitated water, Campbell Patterson has a low square landscape of small undulating hillocks made of Persil washing powder, so that the smell dominates the room far beyond its source. The perfumed soap particles seem to be spreading out into K’ Rd.

The theme continues. Hany Armanious has a portrait made of cut locks of hair spread thinly on a page so we can see a face. Some parts of a visage also hover above it. It’s spreading like Persil aroma. There is an uncertainty factor built in here, for how much is coincidence, how much calculation?

A very unusual Julian Dashper work features a cluster of half inflated balloons pinned by their mouths to the wall, with the artist’s photograph glued on one. As their air gradually seeps out, there is a sense of isolated selves living their transient existences - their lives ebb away and their bodies shrivel. Dashper’s artist’s breath, referencing Piero Manzoni’s balloons, mixes with Patterson’s soap molecules to be then carried in the draughts circulating within the gallery.

Even a gallery wall cannot claim permanence or stasis. Patrick Lundberg’s portable section of plaster gib shows how a precise archaeological excavation might reveal a history of wall paint application. He exposes myths of wall insusceptibility to change; he showcases their illusory solidity. Like soap powder that moves to a far corner as olfactory particles, or the tumbling snipped hairs of a portrait, or dissolving sugar bricks, or breath from a balloon, or entities that once represented ideas (but now reversed) - layers get scraped away and discarded as dust, to be picked up and redeposited by passing zephyrs.

This is fascinating show shouldn’t be missed.


Ross Forbes said...

This is a boring show that one can easily miss. The deflating balloons look, well, just like deflating balloons....with a photo of the author of their puffery pasted haphazardly to one. Et al's work is one hewn off her usual psuedo philosophical cheeseblock..of the French variety that was briefly tasty in the eighties, but now is simply used as a dressing to hide the absence of any visual interest. The white powdery pile on the floor looks like a pile of white powder on the floor.The video is perhaps the most engaging of the works, and i enjoyed the piece of plaster board...but only for its formal merits as a abstract composition. The dismemberment of any myths here concerning the monumentality of walls eludes me, I'm afraid.
If there were other works there I don't remember them.
The small apocalyptic landscape assemblage shown at the gallery opposite Artspace [forget its name} blows all this work out of the water..including the Killen,s shown at the same establishment. These digitised works are too clean to my eye, too close too a an advertising medium without any critical distance.

John Hurrell said...

Well it is certainly not boring.Its visually rich, but restrained.The L.Budd has thin, sensitive under painting and the Dashper makes terrific use of balloons as symbol for transient selves.Patterson's soap powder alas probably loses its aroma quickly.That's unfortunate. What about the hair drawing? See that?

The Richard Killeen you would have seen at Ivan Anthony's down the road. The Room show you mention I haven't seen yet. Sounds exciting.