All Sorts is Joanna Braithwaite’s first exhibition in New Zealand since the acclaimed Wonderland. This mid-career survey emphasised the “consistency of Braithwaite’s work, the singularity of her vision and her extraordinary fluency as a figurative painter.”
Her painted bestiary mixing fact and fiction present an array of concerns, questions and debates while drawing upon medieval predecessors and the traditions of Victorian genre painting, animal portraiture and nineteenth century naturalism.
Using both the symbolic and metaphoric, Braithwaite adds explicit anthropomorphic characteristics to her creatures and animals. She looks beyond simple oppositions to themes of fate, vulnerability and absurdity and so compresses the distance between the painting and the viewer. A sense of wonder is established, the paradoxes of identity, personality and ambiguity juxtapose and before long it is the “cross species gaze putting us on the spot.”
This exhibition comprises two parts – the All Sorts works and the Avian Suite. Braithwaite probes human folly and vanity, while using humour, inversion and the conceits of still-life. The questions posed keep coming, keep breeding. These beautiful, masterful works confirm her status as a major New Zealand artist while reminding us of art's uncanny power.