John Hurrell – 13 December, 2011
If you like me are sympathetic to formal qualities as a component of any artwork, then the question arises about the visual dynamics Lundberg exploits. Some paintings attract because of their simplicity and apparent quickness of thought. They embody decisions that are not prolonged. Others I consider over-laboured and too visually fiddly. They seem mannered.
23 November - 22 December 2011
Down in Wellington Kate Montgomery’s Prospect show is generating considerable discussion and many of the catalysts she has selected come from Auckland. One of these, Patrick Lundberg, is well known for his carved archaeological wall incisions, portable paintings hung off vertical lines of cord, and infinitely repeatable, squiggly pencil wall drawings.
This Ivan Anthony show is a cleverly selected mini-survey of his current approaches to making (putting it in austere terms) lines and dots - even though other key formal properties like shape and colour interact within them.
For example this exhibition has one item that consists of fourteen ‘dots’: tinted gesso balls built on thumb tacks that can be positioned anywhere on a wall - in any formation, or dispersed.
There also eight ‘line’ paintings, four of those consisting of retrieved sections of wall, fragments of painted plaster or chipboard that have thin lines meticulously cut out of the top paint layer found on one side only. Two of these oddly shaped chunks are hung from the ceiling with cord that is sometimes also painted, and two are mounted on the wall.
There are also four other drawn upon or painted shoelaces that are pinned vertically to the wall. Some of these have colours that are eye-poppingly intense, others are delicately tinted with regularly positioned cross-lines as in a tailor’s measuring tape.
Then there are the tracing paper transferral drawings where a repertoire of seven linear pencilled patterns or wiggly alignments is used so you can recognise the different duplications on different walls. These, like the gesso balls, are ‘dematerialised’ and exploit memory - forcing you to compare by looking closely at colour in one and micro-nuances in line direction in the other.
Probably the most well known exponent of such ‘minimal’ linear mark making is Richard Tuttle who in New York in the early seventies deliberately combined pencil line, wire and shadow. In Aotearoa Rob Gardiner and John Ward Knox explore variations of that. With Lundberg, he like his colleague Richard Frater, is interested in the historical traces discovered when outer layers are removed. (Frater has peeled carpet off the floor). That variety of work, though not at Ivan Anthony’s, is part of the Prospect show.
If you like me are sympathetic to formal qualities as a component of any artwork, then the question arises about the visual dynamics Lundberg exploits. When I look at a show like this some paintings attract because of their simplicity and apparent quickness of thought. They embody decisions that are not prolonged. Others I consider over-laboured and too visually fiddly. They seem mannered as if the artist is compelled to keep adding complications. The cut-off point that separates one from the other is of course hard to determine, as are questions about which found surfaces for example are valued and which are rejected, or why say a painted shoelace might be expected to hold your attention?
What is impressive about this show is the way the different methods of ‘painting’ or ‘drawing’ interconnect. Lundberg mixes them up so some line drawings are found on the plaster and paint fragments, and some of those are ‘quoted’ outlines for line drawings. The incised lines on the paintings have resemblances to the shoelace works, as do the painted cords from which the occasional sections of wall hang from the ceiling. Even the gessoed balls can be seen as an extension of the painted thumbtacks that hold up the shoelaces. It’s all very carefully placed around the small inner rooms of the Anthony gallery (Michael Harrison is in the K’ Rd part). All important work that any serious lover of art cannot afford to miss.
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