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.

Friday, September 11, 2009

So cool you could burn youself

Matt Henry: Flatline
7 September – 3 October 2009

Matt Henry’s two paintings in Starkwhite’s exhibiting annex out the back are ultra meticulously made and uber fastidiously installed. They tease us by oscillating back and forth in our minds between early modernist abstraction and consumer luxury items such as rectangular plasma screens and pristine oil heaters. There is an understated humour in the site with unnegotiable wall fittings like light switches and a fire alarm that get successfully incorporated anyhow - by being balanced with the paintings. All the placement (signage and artworks) is carefully considered. Nothing smack dab in the middle.

The black rectangle, hovering on a white canvas, is at eye height and draws you in like a screen – possibly just after the closing credits have finished (the end of art perhaps?). And conveniently near the fire alarm, a hot orange oblong you could almost warm your shins and knees against: great for powercuts on icy frosty mornings.

The Starkwhite room is smaller than the images above suggest, and the work more intimate than you might think, with its emphasis on commodity fetishism which it critiques but knowingly perpetuates. It is also very much about Henry’s manual skills at crafting immaculate surfaces and razor-sharp edges, and elegant positioning.

Henry is part of a school of RMIT (David Thomas influenced) conceptualist, neo-minimalist abstraction that we are seeing more and more of here in Aotearoa. He is exploring an interesting area that seems based on the display rooms of Harvey Normans. Images of perfect blindness and music of impeccable silence.

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