John Hurrell – 22 August, 2012
An 'abstractionist' interpretation - downplaying her role as an illustrative humourist (amped up by her flair for providing superfine detail) or mischievous satirist (where are those reaching hands and longing eyes going?) - instead accentuates the edges of her shapes, the way dominant contours crash over each other, and her shrewd positioning of ‘colourless' limbs. It often subtly confuses the cohesiveness of the swathed bodies so that the individuals merge.
15 August - 8 September 2012
In the older part of the Ivan Anthony space (left at the top of the stairs) there is a new Kushana Bush show, with lots of figures in billowing garments and (nowadays) revealing not so many wobbly & pointy bits as before. Her later move away from exposed flesh - rhythmically stacked up torsos and complicatedly intertwined limbs - is more comical in mood now partly because it features decorative flaps of entangling fabric or flowing ripples of exquisite silk. Oddly it allows Bush to become a sort of abstractionist.
Such an interpretation - downplaying her role as an illustrative humourist (amped up by her flair for providing superfine detail) or mischievous satirist (where are those reaching hands and longing eyes going?) - instead accentuates the edges of her shapes, the way dominant contours crash over each other, her shrewd positioning of ‘colourless’ limbs. It often subtly confuses the cohesiveness of the swathed bodies so that the individuals merge. All this along with an all over musicality.
In other words Bush seems to know how to lock shapes together to create intriguing tensions, using juxtaposed, clashing vectors mixed with banks of voluminous and creased ornamental fabric. Her images are like Japanese woodcuts in their celebration of plane and pattern, but being made in Dunedin, some of her faces almost end up akin to early Jeffrey Harris visages. (He lives there.) Other ball-like heads seem like chubby-jowled Botero portraits. Or Spencer.
Looking at Bush’s implied narratives, perhaps the most interesting work is of an couple in a rumpled bed wearing fibre-coiled hats. He faces away, sitting at the far end of the mattress, depressed as if impotent. She in turn seems to be taunting a whippet with her vagina but the dog won’t have a bar of it and nervously looks away.
Another intriguing image is of a group of gay men in a child’s paddling pool. Their longing is the subject matter: the eyes, mouths, hovering hands and one solitary cock. A symbolic watering can and bucket lie abandoned on the ground.
It will be interesting to see where Bush goes with this work, especially the groups of clothed figures. I say that because the fabulist aspects about sexual behaviour are what give her images power. The others don’t seem so interesting though they have lots of erotic overtones. Without the explicit sexual content however, will she turn into a jocular and cloying Beryl Cook (limited to giggly cuteness) or can she go beyond whimsy (and sweetness) and transmute them into something more profound, sardonic or savage (like say, Rowlandson, Coe or Scarfe)? Bush is obviously an extraordinary talent; we’ll have to wait and see.