Internationally acclaimed sculptor Neil Dawson is widely acknowledged as one of New Zealand’s leading and most prominent sculptors. Dawson’s inventive sculptures defy convention and challenge our perception of space, volume, weight and movement. In exploring the interplay between reality and illusion, the invariable and the unexpected, Dawson’s work offers a multitude of perspectives which are tantalisingly revealed as the viewer moves around and in front of each work. In his latest series Deck, Dawson has scaled-up and manipulated the form of a playing card. Each is “cunningly cut and bent into ornate shapes – balancing positive and negative, recession and projection...with typical Dawsoneque playfulness. As he often does, Dawson takes something recognisable and relatively mundane, and manipulates it in terms of material and scale until it becomes something almost architectural. Each is a variation on a theme, exploring the possibilities of making a two-dimensional form take up three-dimensional space with just folding and cutting in a pure economy of material. They are exquisite”. (1)
Mike Petre’s Field Study series has attained an iconic status. The result of the artists’ ongoing exploration into themes and concepts surrounding the New Zealand rural environment, Petre’s highly recognisable large scale portrayals of cattle are intensely striking compositions of rhythmic, gestural planes of dripping black paint upon a stark pale canvas. These are paintings of illusion where elements of abstraction and realism intertwine.
Callum Arnold has risen to national prominence quickly and this is undoubtedly due to his emerging with a fully formed visual language entirely his own and array of painterly skills other artists remark on. Arnold reveals an inhabited, worked landscape marked by the divisions of fence lines, gates, and telegraph poles. The landscape is intersected, dissected and recomposed creating an intrigue of multiple images and perspectives. In every painting there is a journey in progress. The viewer anticipates change is imminent yet each painting undeniably “exudes a sense of tranquillity of time stilled, a dream frozen”. (2)
1. Andrew Paul Wood, “Not just a pack of cards,” The Press, May 20 2009.
2. Warwick Brown, Seen This Century: 100 New Zealand Contemporary Artists, RHNZ Godwit, 2009.