John Hurrell – 27 December, 2010
The Starkwhite show is particularly interesting because of the shipwreck theme being placed over loud poppy colours that seem to introduce an element of irony. The historical imagery is deliriously incongruous here, not being about contemporary consumerism as perhaps you might expect, and rarely with brooding background ambiences. It's an enigmatic and likeable show exulting in demonstrations of manual skill mixed with cleverly loaded, ambiguous subject matter.
From here to there
7 December 2010 - 19 January 2011
Los Angeles painter Whitney Bedford has had her work shown occasionally in Auckland in small group shows at Starkwhite or St. Paul Street, but From here to there is her first proper solo presentation.
It impresses not only because of her considerable paint handling and drawing skills (she uses ink and oil together on board panels) but also because of the very bold nature of her hang. In the big downstairs space at Starkwhite she has placed a single painting near the righthand corner near the window, and the other nine across the room in a packed cluster, fitting in the corner diagonally opposite.
Bedford has a graphic flair for illustrative rendering mixed with a gestural painter’s bravado. Her colourful images exploit a lively painthandling, and oddly enough seem very Australian - a blend say of Sidney Nolan with Ken Orchard. Everything is beautifully controlled, being wild but not too frenetic or chaotic. Never dull either, but perfectly pitched.
In this show Bedford has a repertoire of images that include sailing ships being wrecked in storms, pink icebergs, dense luxuriant vegetation, migrating birds and exploding sky rockets. She seems to like to render movement with skittering brushmarks, or flying specks, and incorporating tropes that allude to her own zigzagging emotional vagaries.
Yet these beautifully made pictures suffice in themselves to hold your attention. You don’t need to know about their creator’s tortured love life, inner turmoils and possible social gaffes to enjoy them. She might live in California surrounded by the Hollywood movie industry but these paintings don’t seem to be stridently confessional or nurturing of inside gossip. In fact the images could also be symbols for our unstable times, the economic and ecological disasters causing so much global catastrophe. Whatever the case, these paintings exist in their own right as sources of pleasure, playing on smeary streaky oil paint, sensitively ‘dangled’ ink lines and thin scumbled over washes.
The Starkwhite exhibition is particularly interesting because of the shipwreck theme being placed over loud poppy colours that seem to introduce an element of irony. The historical imagery is deliriously incongruous here, not being about contemporary consumerism as perhaps you might expect, and rarely with brooding background ambiences. Even the grey paintings are silvery and not ominous. It’s an enigmatic and likeable show exulting in demonstrations of manual skill, mixed with cleverly loaded, ambiguous subject matter.
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