Show and Tell is a celebration of the new. It provides the opportunity for the exploration of new media and the experimentation with established practices and concepts. Works from new and recent arrivals are shown alongside those from artists who already have considerable exhibition histories with the gallery.
Darryn George’s hard-edged abstraction has always been imbued with narrative and symbolic content. The paintings in Show & Tell represent a recent shift in George’s practice; the manipulation of line and text remains, but is now juxtaposed against painterly planes of colour. The passage of the artist’s hand is clearly marked by the gestural, marbled blues and greys of the backgound, and the insistent spatters that seem to float above it. The Crossing #4 is sharply bisected and the viewer comes to realise that George is telling the story of Exodus/Ekoruhe: on his canvas, the seas part to reveal a patterned pathway to escape and recovery.
Winner of the 2016 Parkin Drawing Award, Hannah Beehre’s screen-like works combine the fluidity of Indian ink with delicate charcoal mark-making. The artist’s considered use of empty space balances perfectly the controlled splashes of black and the vigour of the tumbling animals. The same juxtaposition of flowing movement and quiet stillness is seen in Aiko Robinson’s prints. Drawing on the erotic traditions of Japanese shunga, Robinson uses line and subtle tinting in her lithographs to explore multiple versions of sexuality. She embraces the notion that these topics are “hidden in plain sight”, and her works invite discussion about the role of eroticism and pornography in contemporary society.
Hidden in plain sight is also appropriate for Peter Trevelyan’s book-based sculptures. Each carefully selected volume opens to show a tiny example of the artist’s graphite constructions. Trevelyan subtly links each sculpture to the title of the book that houses it – the structure hidden inside Agriculture of New Zealand brings to mind the topography of hill country backblocks. Trevelyan’s Gradient #2 speaks to the larger focus of his practice; his installations are often free-standing or wall-mounted and their engineering appears to defy the laws of physics.
The sophisticated abstraction of Mike Crawford’s Matuku Moana and Kumete Manu show once again why his cast glass works are in such high demand. Kumete Manu is defined by the interaction of light, line and space and the opaque pair of black herons explore concepts of mass and volume.
Paul Maseyk’s Seven Coloured Vessels are indicative of the strong forms that characterise his ceramics and are matched by equally striking glazed decoration. Maseyk’s sense of the absurd is evidenced in the vessels’ overtly phallic shapes, and is also seen in the perky breasts encircling the base of Pedestal and Krater, while the uppermost rim sports a collection of brightly coloured animal outlines.
Rounding out Show and Tell is a suite of Michael Hight’s night paintings. Upon first glance, the works pose more questions than they answer: what is hanging in the balance? who is weighing up matters, and why? Hints can be found in the titles, all of which are Taranaki placenames and speak to the contested land histories of the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s. These in turn may be overlaid with contemporary concerns about land use – oil exploration and intensive farming have irrevocably changed the Taranaki landscape. How do environmental, economic and social narratives find an equilibrium? Is this even possible? New questions need to be asked and new responses found.