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Exotic Egyptian Imagery

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Megan Jenkinson, Apres Nous Le Deluge, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 1160 x 1135 mm Megan Jenkinson, Mount Arafat, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 1060 x 1340 mm Megan Jenkinson, New Kingdom, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 465 x 1525 mm Megan Jenkinson, The Works of Man, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 1160 x 1135 mm Megan Jenkinson, The Gate of Heaven, The Gates of Hell, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 1160 x 1340 mm Megan Jenkinson, Petrie's Conundrum, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 1050 x 950 mm Megan Jenkinson, New Kingdom (detail), Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 465 1525 mm Megan Jenkinson, New Kingdom, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 465 1525 mm Megan Jenkinson, A tent, pitched in the Wilderness, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 960 x 860 mm Megan Jenkinson, And Beneath Our Feet, The Dead, Walking, Ultrachrome injet on Hahnemuhle paper, 1125 x 990 mm

Unfortunately for Jenkinson she is completely upstaged by the gritty Frank Schwere exhibition downstairs. In comparison to that Detroit anchored and visually dense show her works look bland and coffee-table-bookish, lightweight and trivial. Their nuances evaporate into vagueness.

Auckland

 

Megan Jenkinson
Drift

 

20 May - 18 June 2011

In the upstairs space at Two Rooms Megan Jenkinson is exhibiting a dozen images many of which appear to have been based on a trip to Egypt, namely Cairo and the Sahara desert. Exploring the joys of travelling through an exotic landscape, these look as if they could have come from the pages of Life magazine or National Geographic but tweaked to include digital ‘inserts’ or delicate ‘double exposures’.

In a large inkjet print of rocky sand dunes silhouetted against blue skies we see a dried riverbed in the foreground layered with what could be the wispy ghosts of inverted trees or streaming cascades of water. An ornately furnished house has ethereal but craggy butte forms faintly traversing the main wall while real sand seems to encroaching inside, gradually covering the carpet. Decay and geological collapse dominate, nothing lasts forever, but this eternal entropic truth is stated in a restrained, understated, manner.

Unfortunately for Jenkinson she is completely upstaged by the gritty Frank Schwere exhibition downstairs. In comparison to that Detroit anchored and visually dense show her works look bland and coffee-table-bookish, lightweight and trivial. Their nuances evaporate into vagueness. They are not tizzy but there is no chance you’d ever take them seriously. They are not remotely compelling, only insipidly forgettable.

This is in spite of the fact there is content in the faint secondary images or Photo-shopped symbols. However such allusions to various historic, economic and eco issues don’t stop the work from being anaemic. The touristic format they are presented in ends up making them corny visually and - because of the gallery exhibiting context - very ordinary.

Two works - a little different from the rest in that they emphasise the pictureplane - feature ancient wall relief sculpture, bathed in a golden light, taken I think at the relocated Abu Simbel Temple. Their largish size enables you to enjoy the sun-raked carved forms and deeply etched contours - the virtuosity of the drawing; the precision of each carefully stylised bodily detail. All set within a grid formed by the huge blocks cut when the temple was transported up the Nile, and fascinating images (before being photographed) in their own right.

 John Hurrell

 

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