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.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Anthony shows Graham

Graham (a group show): Tony de Lautour, Rohan Wealleans, Michael Harrison; Yvonne Todd, David Cauchi, Richard Killeen
Ivan Anthony
3 February - 20 February 2010

This six-person group show at Ivan Anthony’s - a suite of mini-exhibitions by artists normally well known to Anthony visitors - is unusual in that it introduces to Aucklanders the work of Wellingtonian newcomer David Cauchi - many of whose wall drawings adorned the public toilet walls of the Adam Art Gallery during Wall Works last September.

Cauchi’s occasionally mock-Mayan graffiti looks best directly on architectural planar surfaces and not on pinned up pieces of white paper but the latter ink drawings are easier to sell and indicate a witty, albeit cynical (realistic?) sensibility. Of the 37 works, my two favourites are: 'The World' with its two percentage bar graphs of ‘good shit’ and ‘bad shit’: and 'The Critic' with one hand on his erect member and the other gouging out his eyeballs with a dagger – the pleasures and dangers (power and self-hatred) of what Martin Jay calls the ‘scopic regime’ of the modernist gaze.

Killeen’s three digital ‘paintings’ around the corner in the hall, though also graphic, are highly patterned and spatial, and less immediate. Surface here is illusionistically sculpted by ink-jet programming and is densely ornamental. In contrast, a line of sixteen raw Tony de Lautour drawings in the office - on scrap paper and card - are very similar to his recent Te Tuhi show and like Cauchi, also satirical, but less about the art world and more about New Zealand history and white working class frustrations.

While de Lautour likes to render brutal, swaggering oafs with coarse scruffy brush marks that hint of incipient violence, Harrison focuses on delicately rendered, ethereal young women in thin acrylic washes that dwell in another more imagined and longed for world of floating forms. De Lautour bruises and shoulder-charges the viewer into entering his imaginary space while Harrison caresses and coaxes.

Rohan Wealleans’ wall work Horrogami is a simplified version of another work of the same name in the Chartwell collection – but without collaged photographic elements this time. It features yellow and orange spiky cut-paper and glued-on slices of blue marbled paint so that the projecting folded image looks part vulva, part sea anemone, part jeweled but prickly bush – in a curved glass case.

Yvonne Todd’s The Menthol Series (1999) is in five identically sized parts, with a cat with peculiarly rounded ears in its centre. Like with Harrison’s images there is a haunting and restrained gravitas, except that Todd uses an approximate symmetry. Her work’s outer extremes have gentle diagonals (manicured hand holding a white die and chain necklace versus a lily-shaped glass vase toppled over a hardened pool of spilt candle wax); those second in have four verticals (white carnations versus white recently snuffed candles); and the sleepy feline in the middle eyes us with amused suspicion.

While much of this show has been displayed before (like all of Todd and some of Harrison) it is still good to revisit. Cauchi though is a refreshingly surprising component. Hopefully his contributions to the Auckland art scene will be now more frequent.


Lil and Matt said...

Looks like a great show. David Cauchi's bar graph feels a little like David Shrigley, sans optimism.

John Hurrell said...

Can you give us your full name,Lil?

s. said...

sans optimism

That's our Cauchi :))

S. Clover

John Hurrell said...

Cauchi perhaps is more anal than Shrigley. A more fastidious (nonscruffy) sort of line. Closer in style to English 'drawer-painters' like say Michael Craig Martin and Patrick Caulfield.