The politics of use - current and past - is as present in Bruce Hunt’s exhibition The Backlands as rhythm of line, casting light, emergent shadow and the tectonic structure of the alpine landscape of Central Otago.
Information accumulates in numerous ways. There’s Hunt’s trademark topographical accuracy. There’s his rare ability to paint air and the role it plays in what and how we see. There’s the uncanny sense the viewer comes to have of participating, of actually being up there, in it, experiencing that unique and remarkable landscape - surrounded. The artist takes the viewer on a physical communion.
The signs of man are everywhere just as is his absence. The narratives of use and consequence appear. A road is carved into the skin of the landscape and becomes a vein for hope. A trig station battered by climate and the necessity of exposed placement acknowledges light and reveals a different materiality.
The high, encircled vantage point and the establishment of multiple lines of sight directly interact with the forms and folds of ceaselessly interlocking landscape structures. Hunt’s topographical precision is as much a fact as how the geomorphology (the living architecture) is delivered. Added to this is a valley by valley phenomenon – the variances of weather, the revelations of what light exposes or hides in shadow.
In a change of medium, a mix of alkaloid and oil, Hunt builds an intriguing radiance into works such as Headless North (2010). The foreground focus rises up in these, detail emerges. In The Cape (2004-10), an environmental poem of isolation and beauty, a remnant tree is lit by soft light.