Friday, April 30, 2010

Why the hell not

Image: AMP poster, Wellington

Mystery object

Since the day Frank Lloyd Wright first got the idea to set the curved walls of the Guggenheim Museum on an angle, architects have been doing everything they can to make museum buildings as unhelpful for the display of art as they can. Gigantic walls, weird features like extended architraves, wall surfaces that are too precious to take a nail, diving boards; that sort of thing. 

A typical example was the fenced gap architect Ian Athfield cut into the floor of the top gallery in Victoria University’s Adam Gallery. Charitably it might have been intended as an access for large paintings or maybe exceptionally long, thin sculptures, but realistically it is an awkward intrusion that makes the gallery uncomfortably narrow and partly blocks any long distance views. So maybe you won't be surprised to learn that the mystery object is Ian Athfield’s hole, as it were. 

For the exhibition featuring Anthony McCall’s light works the gap was filled in and, even given the safety fence, the illusion that the floor extends to the wall suggests the next obvious step: pull down the fence and make the change permanent.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thinking about Dick and Jim

From one of OTN's legendary hat and badge owners, this nifty example of Frizzell meets Jim Spiers.

Kick arts

What’s the last thing you’d expect to see in a Napoleon Dynamite-meets-Kill Bill 2 flick set in New York? How about contemporary British art from the YBAs? That’s what you get in Kick-Ass, a movie about a normal kid who decides to become a super hero. 

To show off his true evilness and greed, the villain, Frank D’Amico (just like his corporate equivalent Gordon Gekko) owns a large art collection which is displayed in his, you guessed it, penthouse apartment. Oddly for an American gangster, D’Amico shows off British artists like Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn. Indeed Quinn’s blood head Self greets fellow gangsters at the elevator (Quinn makes the heads out of five pints of his own blood every five years, Vegas Picasso piercer Steve Cohen owns the original 1991 version, Texans Cindy and Howard Rachofsky 1996, Kim Chang-il 2001 and the National Portrait Gallery in London 2006 so, as a new one’s not due until next year, maybe it's a stunt double). And useful too as heroine Hit Girl uses it as a shield to save being splattered by automatic gunfire during the final shoot-out. There’s also a Hirst spin painting, a butterfly work and a classic dot painting in the hall. In the office things turn a little more American with a couple of Andy Warhol Gun paintings on either side of the door and Ed Ruscha’s painting Brave men, but Brits rule. 

Why all this British art in New York? The answer lies in the movie having been made in the UK by British producer/director Matthew Vaughn who with his wife Claudia Schiffer owns a lot of the work on screen, apart we assume from the versions that get shredded by gunfire. Vaughn has said of the two Warhol gun paintings in the gangster’s office, “I was a bit cynical there. I put them in hoping they would become more iconic and shoot up in value.”

Images top to bottom, left to right: Marc Quinn's Self in the hallway, Hit Girl uses Self's refrigeration unit for cover, Hirst dot painting and perhaps a Tim Noble and Sue Webster neon, one of the two Warhol gun paintings,  Ruscha and the inevitable Rothko.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Count Giuseppe Panza 1923-2010

"It's important to live with artworks, to stop in front of them often, and come back over and over again. Familiarity is crucial to judge the work of the artist, to understand his motivations, his world, his conscience, and how he translates it into images. The communication is the most difficult thing."
Art collector Count Giuseppe Panza in an interview with Barbara Casavecchia

The knowledge

For some time now, we’ve been trying to do something we thought would be very simple, that was to get some basic background information about the staff of Creative New Zealand. We asked CNZ for a list of senior managers and front line staff along with their educational qualifications and job experience. Now, as the reorganization of CNZ advances, the caliber and expertise of the staff becomes even more important. Their roles are going to change from committee feeders to outward looking advisors and assessors for the much slimmed down Council. 

Currently staff information under the heading 'Who we are' is wrapped up in Team descriptions that are so general they give no sense of what people are responsible or accountable for. This sort of thing, "The Strategy team works to identify strategic issues and opportunities across the arts sector. This team has the capacity to address sector, pan-arts, and art form strategies and issues." 

The good news is that CNZ’s Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright promised us last month that the senior staff details will be up on the CNZ web site by the end of April and the front line staff shortly after that. The slidey news is that he added the following caveat, “Essentially we would not compel staff to release specific information about their achievements or work experience as the public interest in this information does not outweigh the privacy considerations noted above.” He is referring to the favourite bolt-hole for questions sent to CNZ, The Privacy Act of 1993. 

Is the information that a publicly paid advisor for the visual arts previously worked in an art gallery really a matter of privacy and something the public have no right to know? 

We’ll find out on Friday.

The Long March - The other OTN stories about trying to get staff info from CNZ
April 2007: Private lives go here 
February 2008: Section (9)(2)(a) go here
November 2009: Being private in the public service go here

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Oh Ye of little faith

An email survey organised by the people at SCAPE will send a chill into the heart of any artist who receives it. Looks like it is managed by an outfit called Shannon’s Way whose web page features a lot of photos looking down at people. Their “bottom line” is “behaviour change”. You get the picture. The other picture you will get if you take the survey is that SCAPE is gearing up to Te Paparise. 

Take question 30 We are thinking of holding other relevant activities around SCAPE, what do you think would make it more exciting? Amongst the possible answers are: a SCAPE-branded photo booth where I can take photos with my friends/families; Activities that kids can actively participate in; Artwork tour challenge similar to ‘Amazing Race’ format (i.e. clues that I can de-code as I race from one artwork to another); People’s Choice Awards (voting on my favourite artwork) and Personalised tours of SCAPE and the city led by a celebrity. 

And question 31 Which of the following messages do you like most or you can relate to the most? ESCAPE to SCAPE – it’s art. it’s fun. it’s free; ESCAPE to SCAPE – kids, take the oldies; ESCAPE to SCAPE – you only need an hour; ESCAPE to SCAPE – you’ll be surprised.

At least any artist who signs up for SCAPE knows exactly what they’re in for.

Monday, April 26, 2010


English designer Peter Dyer does Killeen-meets-de Lautour on the cover of The checklist manifesto.

Space, the final frontier

The artist’s studio has undergone many radical changes over the years from bustling workshops full of apprentices to cold water rat traps at the top of dilapidated buildings. In New Zealand we have seen the artist studio move from the front room of a villa or flat to the hard-to-rent space to, in some cases, the bespoke architect-designed version exemplified by the McCahon House Residency

For some artists though the studio is simply wherever they happen to be at the time. Just as Bruce Nauman discovered that anything he did, including mundane tasks like digging a fence post hole, could be art, so they accept their everyday physical environment as their studio. That’s how we found ourselves in one of Campbell Patterson’s studios: the parking basement of the building he lives in. Looking across the space we could see familiar props from some of his recent video works, parked cars, dumper bins, concrete floors. Patterson has just exhibited in the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art and is included in Unnerved: the New Zealand Project that looks at New Zealand work in the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery.
Images: One of Campbell Patterson's 'studios'

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Looking into the abyss

Smashing the Warhol piñata

All the art that fits

You have to admit OTN does good rumour. Four out of four for the Walters Prize selections. 

A shame we couldn’t share the Stevenson-is-in-did-we-say-in-we-meant-out story. The Auckland Art Gallery probably should have gone along with ‘if you are in a hole stop digging’ on this one. After all, ‘we are looking for an outstanding contribution to contemporary art in New Zealand so long as it isn’t too big or too hard to sort out admin-wise’ doesn’t sound that good. 

Can this be why the Parekowhai elephants got the chop? “Elephants? You’ve got to be bloody well kidding.”

You can read the Auckland Art Gallery media release with the section about Michael Stevenson highlighted here

Friday, April 23, 2010

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world

Face off

A reader (thanks A) has sent in the cover of the new Bill Pearson biography that uses what looks like Luke Wood’s McCahon typeface. Back in 1963 McCahon made the painting that was used for the cover for Pearson’s own book Coal Flat, although McCahon’s own McCahon typeface was serif and somewhat less elegant than the Pearson biography version. In the Journal of New Zealand Literature Paul Millar, the author of the biography, recalls the McCahon painting hanging in Pearson’s Wellington home next to a painted portrait, this one of Pearson’s father decked out in full Masonic regalia.
Images: The Pearson biography and the two versions of McCahon’s design for the cover of Coal Flat in 1963 (left) and 1976 (right)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

And you think our headers are OTT

Ned Kelly is Right Up Sotheby’s Arthur Streeton - The Australian


A reader sent in the top right hand photograph as a king-hit lookalike for American artist Jimmie Durham's work (top left) which some of you may have seen it at the 2004 Sydney Biennale. And that got us Googling. Thanks A

The Walters Prize Rules OK

 Some things you may not know about the Walters Prize:

 The selection panel must be convinced that all finalists have made "an outstanding contribution" to contemporary visual art in New Zealand.

The finalists and winner do not have to be New Zealand born or live in New Zealand.

The selection of a finalist can be made on the basis of a single work within a group exhibition.The work or body of work does not have to have been exhibited in New Zealand.

The final judge who selects the winner of the prize from the finalists can be a New Zealander.

If the work is not created in New Zealand it must be a response to the artist’s experience within New Zealand.

The names of the jury of selectors are kept confidential until the finalists are announced so they can retain their ‘critical independence and freedom to act’.

You can read the text of the relevant rules here

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A big hit with the rich

In the United States, the land that doesn’t do metaphor, extreme food specialist Jennifer Rubell has created a six meter high Warhol piñata. That’s one of those things that you beat the shit out of until it breaks open. As Andy might have said about his face being bashed in by up-market party-goers at the Brooklyn Museum, “Wow.”
Thanks W


reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have turned up in otn's email: rumblings at art + object that might end up as art + art • apparently the beta version of john hurrell’s eyecontact website has now been seen by everyone in new zealand • rumoured walters prize finalist saskia leek has named her daughter agatha joining other art babies may and linus • looks like te papa's new ceo michael houlihan is going to be a collections guy • another new dealer gallery opening in wellington this one by ex ivan anthony staffer robert heald • hamish mckay has given openings the elbow • the best bit of art in auckland art gallery's shed 6 is a marlin head with chain in the room opposite the back door • one walters prize finalist was surprised to be unfinalised at the last moment • cnz are not restructuring, just changing everything • any missed details, changes to outright lies, indignant denials or embellishments gratefully received and the best of them rewarded with one of our new otn badges featuring chola the painting horse.

COMMENT: "art - object is wittier" -  ArtGossip

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Great minds

In Auckland
Q: What will we put up when we pull down those sheds on the wharf?
A: A tent

In Wellington
Q: What shall we put up instead of a new Art Museum?
A: A tent

Modern to a T

Want an art hero t-shirt with a pixel pic of Vincent, Pablo, Andy or whoever the guy on the end of the line is? Go over to Very Important Pixels. You can find them here.


 O is for opening

The best guess date for the invention of cheese is somewhere around 6,000 years ago in what is now Iran and wine too had its origins nearby at about the same time. That means we can probably nail the first wine and cheese event to around 3900BC, or thereabouts. Not that you see much cheese at art openings these days but the wine thing is still going strong. Back in the day the wine usually came from a cask or (at upmarket events) from a bottle via a cask but now, like the shoes curators wear, the quality has gone way up.

Apart from the quality of the wine though, you do have to ask why openings have stayed so…er… the same for so long. Since the first director had the brainwave of asking four or five notables to get up and thank everyone within reach while those invited to the opening stand around waiting to see what they actually came for (the art), things haven’t changed much. TV has conquered nightlife, the internet has changed our lives, man has landed on the moon and one of those satellite things has headed off to Mars, but we still listen to directors thank their staff for doing the jobs they were paid to do (most often by us via our rates and taxes). One day perhaps a museum will hold an opening that tells us a bit about what we are about to see and then lets us in to see it. Got to take 10 minutes max.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Rohan Wealleans Tatunka meets wacky north of Auckland cafe

Take a seat

There was a great art-to-go moment in Auckland on Friday. As part of the Living Room series of art installations curated by Pontus Kyander, et al. and choreographer Sean Curham collaborated over three days in Khartoum Place. Friday was the final day. The installation one-to-many and many-to-one set up a classic et al. enclosure with exhortations on panels and signature grey-painted chairs as well as festoons of pink balloons contributed by Curham. In spite of the collaborative intent themed around ‘issues of altruism and reciprocity,’ by Friday most of the chairs had been marked with Day-glo spray crosses and had been pilled up in a heap outside the wire fencing. This we were told was as the result of a disagreement between the artists just before we arrived. Later that day the chairs were back in lines for a short performance by Tina Pihema. 

Over the three days visitors to the installation were invited to take a chair away with them if they wanted to, and they did. A guy from Tony’s restaurant next door grabbed a few for his kid’s kindergarten which, as he explained, had hardly any chairs at all. After the performance there was a rush for the chairs and frames that were left with people checking out inscriptions and making sure the little wheels Sean Curham had added were still in place. 

We figured the installation was over when the last serviceable chair was carried out of the compound and down High Street. On our way home we saw a small posse of chairs parked outside a Thai restaurant while their new owners had a quick meal.
Images: Top left, chairs evicted and sprayed by Sean Curham piled outside the installation, right, chairs free to a good home. Middle Tina Pihema performing and audience. Bottom chair collector, user and waiting to be taken home.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Painting Otter

You’re right T we haven’t had a painting Otter on OTN, horses, elephants, dogs, birds, flies and chimps, but no otters - you win.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Branded: Shane Cotton

The moment when artists become brands

Book envy

In the late 1980s the National Art Gallery, as it was then, had one of the best art bookshops in the country. The introduction of post-modern theory and the intense debate it sparked in the capital as elsewhere was due in large part to the books selected by Cheryl Brown who ran the small but influential store. Now if you want to look at a wide selection of art books you have to go to the excellent Parsons Bookshop in Auckland or, as we found out recently, the book store at the Christchurch Art Gallery. 

Wellington is another story altogether. Unity has a small range but doesn’t seem to have its heart in it, Te Papa has continued its focus on kids and tourists in its retail operations, so no luck there and the City Gallery has never risen much above a trestle table of catalogues, an effort that feels at odds with its claim to be the most important venue for contemporary art in the country. Amazon on the other hand…
Image: A slice of Christchurch bookshop's stock

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On the road

On the road is an ongoing series celebrating the Ministry of Land Transport and Local Body support of New Zealand artists.
For others in the series search 'on the road' in the blog search box above.


An early Peter Peryer photograph we have always loved is one from 1976 called Dog. Looking like an illustration for a Gothic spelling book, it was taken with a cheap plastic Diana camera which lends it that distinctively moody character. A while back Peter began work on an alphabet of photographs and whatever develops with the larger project, he has definitely nailed D. We saw a small print of Dog in Peter’s bathroom when we were in New Plymouth and it turns out the dog belonged to artist Seraphine Pick's family. Seraphine was about 12 at the time Peter took the photograph and was living in Russell.

Thinking of our readers and your thirst for knowledge, we rang Seraphine and asked the critical question.

OTN: So tell us, what was the dog’s name.
Seraphine: (long pause) Dog, I’m pretty sure its name was Dog.

You can see a higher resolution image of Dog here in the Auckland Art Gallery's collection

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Big horse sculpture

Readers are sending in far too many pictures of big horse sculptures. However, we will share the best ones with you, this being the first a 40 meter high statue of Genghis Khan and steed, which is kinda odd given that the great Khan reputedly died of a fall from his horse. The sculpture is made from stainless steel and is positioned on the Mongolian steppe which you can gaze out upon from a viewing deck above the horse’s head.


Just when you think Wellington couldn’t possibly squeeze another public sculpture into its urban landscape, two pop up on the street where we live. Yes, the National Tattoo Museum is relocating just down the block.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Badge of honour

To get advance notice of important art news that is being kept under wraps (usually because of the timing of a media release), OTN has been offering lavishly hand-crafted gifts. We are delighted to announce that the 42 OTN caps we produced have now all been sent out to reward informants both in New Zealand and abroad.

To keep up the flow of information we have commissioned a new OTN product: the OTN Animal Art badge. Designed by OTN favourites Stimulus/Response (based on OTN animal art star Chola the painting horse) and created by master craftspeople here in Wellington, the OTNAAB will be an honour to be awarded and a pleasure to wear.

So, as we say at OTN, OTY.

Image: From top left to right. Original design by S/R, the machine used to create the metal template, master stamp, blank ready for enameling, badges awaiting attachments, badge worn discretely behind a lapel, badge on display

Location, location and location

As far as we can tell, everyone in Auckland has spent the last few weeks or so comparing Walters Prize rumours for 2010 and has finally reached some sort of consensus. Do people and artists living outside Auckland have any stake in all this? Probably not, but our advice, if you’re running a South Island bookie and someone comes up with Dan Arps, Saskia Leek, Fiona Connor and Alex Monteith as the finalists, don’t give them long odds against. 

If this selection turns out to be accurate it is certainly sending a strong message to all the public art museums. The time has come to pack your bags and shift your sorry arses onto K Road. Seriously, what have you all been doing for the last two years? Sitting on your thumbs if the Walters’ committee is any judge to go by - same with all the dealers South of Auckland. There are small curry shops and computer stores itching to have you relocate close to Walters hot-spots Ivan Anthony, Two Rooms, Michael Lett and Gambia Castle. Who knows, maybe some of their magic will rub off.
Image: OTN staffer checking out Walters’ short list rumours

The OTN Alphabet will return next week.

Monday, April 12, 2010


A reader (ok, our son) responds to the art heist in Christchurch. Check out the complete version here.

We post Stim/Response, they post us. It’s how we build numbers.


People must wonder when they eventually get to Te Papa’s Sculpture Court - in ‘the upper reaches of Te Papa’ as Te Papa itself puts it on the website – why it is so out of the way. The reason goes back to the planning days and the clue is in the dedicated elevator that takes you up there. Initially the outside deck and the space that abuts it was slotted in as a corporate functions area. The idea was to whisk potential sponsors skyward, feed them, water them and sign them up - and all this with a view to die for. The transformation of this corporate haven into a Sculpture Court came about as a sop to complaints that Te Papa was sidelining contemporary art in the narrow boulevard on level five. At that stage the memory of the National Art Galley’s commitment to a strong and regular programme of NZ and imported contemporary art exhibitions remained fresh. 

Now it seems enough years have passed for another change. Apparently Te Papa feels emboldened enough to kick art off the roof and use the space for what it considers more important functions.

Image: On top of Te Papa

Saturday, April 10, 2010

That's over the net ....

.... and on the table.

How many ways can we say thank you P

Friday, April 09, 2010

Send the cash or the life-size head with exaggerated features gets it

“a plaster cast of a skull; a 20cm-high kneeling figure holding a bowl, in mulberry; a life-size head with exaggerated features made out of gingko wood; and a smaller, mask-like face in walnut.” – description of sculptures stolen from Christchurch artist Paul Dean reported in The Press today

The undead

This multiple edition thing is all very well, but how careful do you have to be when you buy one? Often the size of editions is vague, particularly with sculpture, and what do you do about zombie editions, the ones made after the artist’s death like Len Lye’s Wind Wand or Water Twirler? It’s all very well the current committee of Leninists (sorry but it's too good to drop) saying that these works are aok, but what happens later when others take over the role of authentication? Artists saying they want stuff made after their death isn’t quite the same as an artist controlling the development and quality of work while alive.

If you want to see the pitfalls of zombie editions you need look no further than Andy Warhol’s Brillo box sculptures. To start with there is the original set of around 98 made for Warhol’s Sable Gallery show in 1964. For his 1968 survey show in Stockholm a version of the Sable Gallery display was recreated using 500 Brillo packing boxes, the original source for the Warhol sculptures. Then, to complicate things further, a further 100 boxes were also created around the time of the exhibition but in hardboard, not plywood. 

But wait, there’s more. 

In 1970 Warhol authorised the construction of yet another 100 Brillo boxes for the retrospective in Pasadena. These ones were made slightly bigger to distinguish them from earlier examples. Now it turns out the 100 boxes thought to have been made for the Stockholm show (because the curator, Pontus Hulten, said they were) were actually made in 1990, three years after Warhol died, and put to market as 1968 originals. Zombie boxes in fact. As some collectors have paid up to $300,000 per box thinking they were purchasing Warhol authorised originals, ripples of discontent can be felt. The catalogue raisonné of Warhol’s work dates the Stockholm boxes 1968 which makes you wonder about the value of authentication committees that also have an interest in protecting the sales and reputation of an artist.
Image: The Stockholm Brillo boxes recorded and illustrated in the Warhol catalogue raisonné

Sources: Art News, Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne 02A paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, Andy Warhol by Arthur C. Danto, Forbes, and the NYT.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Smart post

We’ve always had a soft spot for dealer gallery signs as you can see here, here and here. Now this addition from the Jonathan Smart Gallery in Christchurch.


For some time now Wellington has used Neil Dawson’s suspended sculpture Ferns as a symbol of the city and its cultural aspirations. The same strategy looks like it is taking hold in New Plymouth where Len Lye’s Windwand is featured on the sign welcoming you into the city. 

Sculpture has always been used to mark historic moments for communities, but now it’s also being brought into play as a metaphor for culture. Like Ferns, Lye’s Windwand even has its own website with a cute logo that has the i in Windwand waving about like a mini-lye. Meanwhile in London there are plans afoot to build the biggest (and possibly ugliest) sculpture in the world to mark the Olympic Games. You can see a video and read all about it here.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Killeen meets fruit and veg. Thanks W.

Climb every mountain

If you look through art auction catalogues these days you might be forgiven for wondering what the low and high estimates represent, particularly on the higher end of the spectrum. Traditionally the low estimate was generally considered to be the absolute-rock-bottom-price-I’m-prepared-to-accept-as-a-seller. Now this has become the price that is slightly-more-than-anyone-would-sensibly-pay-as-a-buyer. Consequently a lot of items now have their sales negotiated later (at least nine in the contemporary art auction according to figures released by Webb's), usually for a price below or just tipping the low estimate. And the high estimates? They seem to be a figure that is plucked from some parallel universe for the entertainment of the crowd. 

You might wonder why auction houses bother with high estimates at all when they are at such variance with the price paid. For instance, last week at Webb’s most items came in under the low estimate. A couple of the big items just made it to the low estimate like Fomison's Hill Top Watcher and Shane Cotton’s painting Blackout movement which was high estimated at $300,000 a $100,000 or 33% more than the knockdown bid received on the night. But, by the time the buyer’s premium ($25,000) and GST on the buyer’s premium ($3,125) were added the auction house were able to call it a “record price.” Low is definitely the new High.
Image: Auction bidder negotiating the buyer’s premium on the way to a record bid.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

And baby makes three

More hot news on big sculpture from OTN. Not to be outdone by the big-French-gift-with-a-torch that stands in New York’s harbour, the Senegalese have just unveiled a 49-metre copper statue. It was made in North Korea and has an alarming likeness to Wellington’s Kupe-by-the-water work. The Senegal job cost a serious $NZ 40 million but no sooner did the covers come off than there was an outcry against the female figure showing too much leg. The solution – a concrete dress – doesn’t sound as if it will fly. The monument and the concrete hemline solution are both the work of architectural firm Group Atepa headquartered in Senegal. You can see more of their extreme creations here.
Images: Top the proposal. Bottom left the reality and right, Wellington’s lookalike

Other OTN posts on the let’s-build-a-giant-statue theme here

As easy as one, two, three

Here’s some good news for Wellington. The recent rumour that the three-yearly Prospect exhibition is to be dumped because three years have elapsed and there’s no sight of a new one, has been quashed by City Gallery director Paula Savage. She told OTN that “the Gallery's Prospect Triennial is scheduled for 2011”. While this probably makes it a Quadennial (or something like that) the exhibition is important to the City Gallery’s brand as a “leading contemporary New Zealand art institution, initiating ground-breaking exhibitions.”

Since 2000 only 14 of its 81 major exhibitions (we have not included the small trainee curator shows done in the Hirschfeld Gallery) have been group shows. And, of those group shows, only half were curated by the City Gallery. The best way for anyone who wants to, as City Gallery director Paula Savage puts it, “…ponder current art practice and consider where art might be going next….” is to see more group shows. All this obviously puts a lot of pressure on Prospect, but you’ll be pleased to hear that another group exhibition is coming up. Ready to roll, will feature eight younger artists selected by curator Heather Galbraith and will open late May, albeit in conjunction with another one-person show, this time John Pule.
Image: Empty prospecting pan

Friday, April 02, 2010

The more things change

It may be hard to believe now, but one of the great upsets in the New Zealand art world happened in the early 1990s when a Gordon Walters painting was hung next to a painting by Sandy Adsett in the exhibition Headlands at the MCA in Sydney. 

The cause of the fuss was whether or not Gordon Walters’ koru paintings had any connection with Maori representations. Walters had always said that he simply used shapes to create balances between positive and negative spaces (“the forms I use have no descriptive value in themselves and are solely to demonstrate relations”), in a way that has been a preoccupation of many modernist painters. Robert Leonard, the curator of  Headlands, had provocatively – although quite reasonably - hung Adsett and Walters in the same room under the grouping Inside out. The juxtaposition infuriated some of Walters’ supporters who found the visual connection insulting. The offence was exacerbated for them by art historian Rangihiroa Panaho who argued in his catalogue essay Maori: at the centre, on the margins that, however much Walters felt his Koru were just abstract shapes, they were in fact inseparable from their Maori context. Tempers flared, letters were written and, instead of being sensibly consigned to the wastepaper basket, were circulated widely - people didn’t talk to people and so on. 

Why are we telling you this? Because if you go up to the fifth floor of Te Papa today you can see Gordon Walters’ 1969 painting Makaro hanging alongside Sandy Adsett’s 1979 painting Matangi and if you look up you’ll notice that the roof hasn’t fallen in.

Image: Walters, Adsett, Nin and Hotere at Te Papa

Thursday, April 01, 2010

OTN will be back...

... after the Easter break.

Image: A traditional Ukrainian Pysanky (Easter egg) decorator does Van Gogh

In Bangladesh

We were thinking of Colin McCahon, Ahipara and Ratana

Out of touch

Trust the Japanese to come up with a solution to the don’t-touch-the-art problem. The Garden of Fine Arts with its stunning building designed in 1994 by Tadao Ando, features some of the world’s masterpieces. The difference between this outfit and say the Prado? The GofFA displays masterpieces as reproductions on weatherproofed ceramic plates. For instance, Michelangelo’s Last Judgement which is inconveniently stuck way up high on a ceiling in the Vatican City (itself miles away from Japan) is displayed between two artificial waterfalls (you can imagine how they have displayed Monet’s Water lilies) with 110 plates joined together to form the picture. It is around the same size as the original, only easier to see. 

Actually, now that we look a little closer at the photographs though we notice that you have to climb a glass barrier and wade across a pool if you want to touch the works, so forget the stuff at the beginning of this post.

You can catch a video of the Garden of Fine Arts here and more pictures of Ando’s building here at our favourite architecture site arcspace