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Confections on the Lawn

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Amber Wilson, Hirsute Pond, 2012, oil on canvas, 600 x 600mm Amber Wilson, Lunar Rille, 2012, oil on canvas, 600 x 600mm Amber Wilson, Aerial, 2012, oil on canvas, 800 x 800mm Amber Wilson, Wanderer, 2012, oil on canvas, 600 x 600mm Amber Wilson, Lagoon, 2012, oil on canvas, 600 x 600mm

A lot of the ‘inserted' imagery seems to be rich in food associations and seems an odd contrast to the dominant landscape settings. The result seems to be a blending of David Lynch's suburban critique with George Harrison's attacks on gluttony. It is as if one's over-indulged face is buried in a suburban manicured lawn with a stomach still rumbling from excessive thinking about dessert and sugary nibbles.



Amber Wilson


11 April - 5 May 2012

This show of Amber Wilson’s at Anna Miles comes hot on the tail of Adrienne Vaughan‘s suite of paintings, and there is a similarity in the way both artists use a textured coloured background that (like collage) seems to have been cut through to expose other worlds beyond. Wilson though is fascinated by dominant fields of green lawnlike texture, part tapestry in their fine cursive loops of thin paint, part (from a distance) glistening Astroturf or a modelmaker’s plastic grass texture. All of her paintings have this highly tactile, slightly bristly background, something quite different from the oil paintings she exhibited at Anna Miles two years ago which were more psychedelic and exuberant. (Also known for her watercolours, these again are quite different in their light and intricacy.)

Inside these canvas squares of this current exhibition Wilson uses odd vaguely shell-like shapes vaguely reminiscent of early Barbara Tuck, another Anna Miles artist. The purple textures and rhythmical patterns in these are like thick piped icing, or creamy zigzags and arabesques going round the rim of a delicious child’s ice cream birthday cake.

In fact a lot of the ‘inserted’ imagery seems to be rich in food associations, particularly layered cake, coffee crema patterns, chocolate or caramel puddings. It seems an odd contrast to the dominant landscape settings (grass lawn or fir tree). The result seems to be a blending of David Lynch’s filmed suburban critique (eg Blue Velvet) with George Harrison’s musical attacks on gluttony (Piggies, Savoy Truffle). It is as if one’s over-indulged face is buried in a crisply manicured lawn with a stomach still rumbling from excessive thinking about dessert and sugary nibbles.

Probably the most interesting examples have two shapes set against the agitated green field, either butted together to suggest a tongue or nose added to a head - or placed compositionally in opposition up against a stretcher edge. This suggests a swapping over or separation of the senses, a confusing of references to taste and eye - with perhaps also smell (with the botanical references of the green), and touch (with the sharp razor edges of the strange unpredictable shapes).

So what can one make of Wilson’s simpler, more formal approach now, with green backgrounds and more centrally positioned motifs almost like playing cards? (Is it some notion of nature versus culture? Or anthropologically, the ‘raw’ versus the ‘cooked’?)

With the ornate shapes placed on the woven ‘carpet’ there is a sense of a prop on a stage caught in a spotlight, an item presented for scrutiny in the centre of the picture-plane. There is a tension between the inner, exuberant, painterly patterns and the motif’s contoured edges that enclose them - all that busy activity vividly contrasting with the very still, more subdued outer field on the periphery.

John Hurrell

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This Discussion has 1 comment.


Roger Boyce, 4:52 p.m. 20 April, 2012

From here, and by way of reproduction, of course, these look to be some of the most intellectually/optically engaging non-objective works I've seen since moving to NZ. I've been following Ms. Wilson's practice and she has yet to disappoint. Brava! Oblique and (maybe yes, maybe no) novel curtsies to Tom Nozkowski?

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