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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two Rooms residency show

Joachim Bandau: New watercolours
Two Rooms
11 March - 10 April 2010

The seven large watercolours shown here by Joachim Bandau - the result of last year's residency in Putiki St - explore different degrees of transparency using diluted black. They look like aerial views of piles of tinted glass rectangles that get darker in the centre where the stack is higher. This experienced German sculptor makes these watercolours using wide but very finely bristled brushes. The granule free, overlapping oblong washes are delicate and consistently even, with a very fine line at the edges.

These works are technically exquisite in the control of the thin ink washes but there is too much work that is almost identical in its very centrally composed design. The show gets a little samey. The best ones are atypical. These are either lopsided stacks or spread apart between the top and bottom of the paper sheet.

The greatest, most refreshing surprise is one work totally different, without the dark tones of the others. It is not so extreme in its blackness, and consists of diagonal shafts of grey light, as if Bandau has gone out into the New Zealand landscape, or perhaps (gasp!) squizzed at a McCahon or two. It has a fragility all its own because of the tightly controlled and very limited tonal range, and the leaning vectors of its parallel lines. It is more nuanced.

Bandau is a fine artist but he needs to think about selection and how to engage his audience with a more varied, less ‘production line’ range of options. However his watercolours are unusually attractive with their dark compelling, transparent voids - if not repetitive.

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