John Hurrell – 5 October, 2010
Whatever the case with attributions, the subject matter of this show is the parameters of identity, the eroded Self. This is exemplified by Budd's expressionistically ‘blonded' treatments of wallpaper overlaid with scrawled appropriations from various philosophers, Xeroxed and enlarged art reviews with other names substituted for the original artists, and Arps' mutilatory treatment of various chairs (disturbing symbols for absent sedentary bodies) and obliterations of amateur paintings (residues from other creative entities).
Dan Arps & The Estate of L. Budd
11 September - 18 October 2010
We have here an exhibition that - as one might expect from Dan Arps (with his many different, seemingly disparate exhibiting interests) or the multiple personas of L. Budd (L., Lionel or Lillian) - is not so much about a display of individual items by particular individuals (though that might appear to be the case) as a deliberate blurring between the two - between one living (Arps) and the other no longer with us (Budd). The title suggests an ‘arranged’ sharing.
As the works in the catalogue are not allocated to either individual, we find (in theory anyway, though a conversation with Lett might counter this) that there is a co-authorship. And perhaps they literally have created the works together, with Arps adding material properties to the Budd works long after 2000, the year of L. Budd’s voluntary termination, or with the ghost of Budd collaborating with Arps - adding to works that he has begun. Or has in fact Arps really made some of the show and then later incorporated a selection of works picked from the Budd estate.
Whatever the case with attributions, the subject matter of this show is the parameters of identity, the eroded Self. This is exemplified by Budd’s expressionistically ‘blonded’ treatments of wallpaper overlaid with scrawled appropriations from various philosophers, Xeroxed and enlarged art reviews with other names substituted for the original artists, and Arps’ mutilatory treatment of various chairs (disturbing symbols for absent sedentary bodies) and obliterations of amateur paintings (residues from other creative entities).
Scattered across the floor of the cluttered gallery, or leaning against or hung upon the walls, a few works explore ‘unsafe’ materials like modelling paste, putty or sticky tape, substances that make a lot of collectors, registrars and conservators throw up their hands in horror. Some items emphasise a blank empty void within The Self, with turntables playing ‘soundless’ records, or painted images displaying ‘nothing’. (Of course there always is something, be that a hiss or some scumbled murky glazes.) Others use lamp-fittings and glowing bulbs as a symbols for light as a metaphor for ideas and mental investigation.
In this merging of artistic brands (sometimes a series of improvised duets, as with turntables, or ‘Conversations Between The Artists’ to quote the scribbled writing on one once Budd, now Budd-Arps work) there are no real surprises - but the exhibition is entertaining with its mixture of apparent chaos, spontaneous (painterly) markmaking and calculated precision. I think I’d probably prefer to see these two artists separately, as in the recent Te Tuhi Unpacking My Library show, but this Lett project is nevertheless intriguing. It gives you the chance to re-examine some old favourites, to see some new (apparently collaborative) hybrids, and despite the show’s attempt to dissolve such questions, to think about the relationship between these two creative individuals - in terms of artistic influence - and various European and American forebears.
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