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JH

Collage and Drawing as Political / Economic Concept

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Ralph Paine, The Logic of Capitalism, collage, acrylic, pencil on paper, 940 x 1340 mm Ralph Paine, The Logic of Capitalism, collage, acrylic, pencil on paper, 940 x 1340 mm Ralph Paine, The Logic of Capitalism, collage, acrylic, pencil on paper, 940 x 1340 mm Ralph Paine, The Logic of Capitalism, collage, acrylic, pencil on paper, 940 x 1340 mm Ralph Paine at Gambia Castle Ralph Paine at Gambia Castle Ralph Paine at Gambia Castle Ralph Paine at Gambia Castle

The collages are the highlight of this show with their modernist flair for shape placement and elegant fine detail, abstract works that double as standing figures or dollar signs. They are not only highly aesthetic objects but also footnotes for Marxist concepts. Gorgeous schematic diagrams that attempt to entice you into doing some historical and political research.

Auckland

 

Ralph Paine
In the Hills Near Fabriano and other works


6 August - 28 August 2010

Ralph Paine here displays two types of work: an accomplished assortment of pencil, ink and gouache drawings, often of sinister top-hatted industrialists / tourists striding through Italy doing the Grand Tour, breathing flame and trampling over skulls; and diagrammatic collages that refer specifically to the writings of Marx. Paine is a natural draughtsperson, a virtuoso with an investigative probing line that restlessly invents forms and dramatic details for narratives. He is a great book illustrator, in terms of skill (like Steadman and Steinberg), and also a prolific and passionate reader of theory - which his collages constantly references.

Paine’s scary but also funny - as Gothic melodrama - attacks on capitalist greed (Capitalist as Grim Reaper) are dazzling graphic images but they seem wasted in Gambia Castle. They should be in publications so they get into people’s homes to be poured over in a leisurely manner, because they have a fable-like quality that entertains as well as expresses a moral point. They need to be reproduced sequentially in magazines or hardcover books, perhaps with extended texts that the artist has prepared - for Paine is a gifted writer too.

It is a shame he does not have a room just of collages, more intricate works like these that refer to consumerism, product packaging and luxury item marketing. They are the highlight of this show with their modernist flair for shape placement and elegant fine detail, abstract works that double as standing figures or dollar signs. They are not only highly aesthetic objects but also footnotes for Marxist concepts. Gorgeous schematic diagrams that attempt to entice you into doing some historical and political research.

John Hurrell

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