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

Gorman and Leigh

Esther Leigh & Kristy Gorman: Into the wilderness
Snowwhite, UNITEC
17 August – 11 September 2009

This double show of two teaching staff at UNITEC is an odd presentation in the way it displays studio research. Somehow the pairing doesn’t gel - even though both artists are known for tendencies at times ‘minimal.’

Esther Leigh uses collage here to develop notions explored elsewhere in her well-known ‘foggy’ images of papier mâché ‘landforms’ photographed through frosted glass. She has photographed her props (polystyrene this time I think) on a glossy floor. They look like icebergs or chunks of packed snow. She has then cut these photographs into strips and restuck the eleven horizontal bands on to paper with Sellotape. These then were photocopied to make four drawings.

The wrinkles, folds and small bubbles of the slightly dark Sellotape add an icelike element to the floor under the props, while the parallel bands bring in a reference to the glossy gallery floorboards. It’s a clever idea where the images seem like the ice, to be decaying. Leigh’s work is worth a trip to Snowwhite to see.

Kristy Gorman is known for her understated ‘paintings’ of paper perforated with tiny holes – often circles of radiating lines or concentric patterns. Here she shows works on watercolour paper: two linear green ink drawings of angular, textured, overlapping shards and three studies with watercolour wash. Two delicate pink works are of vague torsos or portions of a body. The work seems too insubstantial and unresolved to bother presenting in a gallery.

Yet there is one treat within what is in essence a half-hearted display - a small Suprematist watercolour of nine overlapping grey bands of different lengths, widths and angles. It is like a tiny Malevich made by Michael Harrison and is unnervingly nuanced and precise. This one work by Gorman generates real energy and excitement. Here she is not doodling absentmindedly but actually controlling the compositional dynamic of her forms. With a wonderful result.

The two images above are from Esther Leigh's Idle Fleet # 1 & 3 , 2009, sellotape and ink on paper

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