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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Culbert wall works

Bill Culbert: Flat Out
Sue Crockford
11 August – 5 September 2009

The title of this latest show from Bill Culbert is the name of a large wood and glass window work on the main Crockford wall. Apart from referring to the state of being very busy, it refers to his use here of unstitching or dismantling suitcases – a tip of the hat perhaps to the brilliance of the fabric-seam ‘drawings’ of his wife Pip. The intact leather travelling case diagonally impaled by a glowing fluorescent tube is his well known motif that led to this new development.

The four ‘opened-out’ oblong cases all have such single tubes vertically or diagonally placed across their levelled planar components. One is genuine bullock hide; another fake; a third textured, shiny and dark; the fourth plain, matt and pale. They tease out the sparkling qualities – as Culbert loves to do – of reflected light apparent on the leather surfaces, metal clip locks, hinges, reinforced corners, edges and handles, exploiting the natural light pouring in the large window facing the waterfront, mixing it with that of the tubes. The dramatic umber work by the entrance, ’Inter-island’, takes advantage of the dark Endeans Building landing. In the gallery proper the polished parquet floor mirrors a rippled, disintegrating version of the bright linear bars.

Culbert’s other two works mix horizontal tubes with portable house parts normally used for DIY home renovation. One is a solid wooden door where two glary bulbs divide its height into thirds. They are not on the door surface but inserted into its cross-section, while the metal casings create dark shadows that cling to the edge of each tube. Two thin electrical leads, a door handle and three hinges make a kind of delicate drawing as the door almost dissolves into the wall. Real lights hover above the ghostly horizontal reflection of an inverted lower bulb flickering within the shiny floor.

The eponymous large work on the big wall - a loose grid of ten different sized windows (glass panes and white wooden sills) and seven tubes (some are lined up) - exploits the shiny glass so that illuminations from other walls are repeated within its transparent rectangles. Battered frames with flaky dry paint and matt pink undercoat frame these glossy views of pristine gallery wall so that flat planar oblongs mingle with reflected spatial depth through each window. Lines of glowing white mimic nearby vertical struts holding the glass in place. There is a sort of kinetic choreography of dancing white lines as you move around the space.

No comments: