John Hurrell – 12 November, 2012
McCracken's titles are filled with irony: The two 'Portraits of Mass and Transmission' have diagonal coglike edges, and being buckled, thwart any possibility of such implied energy transferral. Likewise 'Closed Loop with Traction' is not likely to grip any surface, nor is 'Portrait of Mass and Separation', an enlarged piece of mesh, likely to serve as a nonporous barrier.
Portraits of Mass and Transmission
31 October - 24 November 2012
The distinctive material of corten steel, a particular type of alloy made famous in contemporary art by the work of Richard Serra and Bernar Venet, in this country is now getting linked to the sculpture of David McCracken.
His six very heavy looking, lightly rusted, corten steel sculptures currently being presented at Gow Langsford’s Kitchener St premises play off delicate weather-beaten oxidizing textures (exploiting brown residues from trickling rivulets of rainwater) against thick weighty forms that while alluding to cumbersome industrial machinery, grinding iron wheels with cogs, or chunky tractor tyres, are cast amusingly to incorporate cartoonish distortion - such as wobbly kidney shapes - as if being stretched like elastic garters or rubber bands.
Although the volumetric mass dominates there is much surface nuance in this show. One work has welded thin hollow steel ‘treads’ welded to the corten steel, so we see glimpses of a silvery patina under the granular brown coating, and replacing the yellowy-orange streaks that occasionally appear on that metal.
Some of the rusted steel works look like sagging or caved-in rims that one could walk through - for most reach up to about head height or higher. Others are like chunks of rubber or blocks of wood with splitting cracks or expanded gaps: making more ironic and humourous asides about the rigid properties of steel.
McCracken’s titles are accordingly entertaining: The two Portraits of Mass and Transmission have diagonal coglike rims, and being buckled, thwart any possibility of such implied energy transferral. Likewise Closed Loop with Traction is not likely to grip any surface, nor is Portrait of Mass and Separation, an enlarged piece of mesh, likely to serve as a nonporous barrier.
This is a cleverly installed show that allows easy bodily exploration of its six components. Whilst comparatively old fashioned as sculpture, it still is witty and fresh, and has real presence. An excellent exhibition.
To read a transcript of the panel discussion “Whose Oceania?” held recently in London, and more on NZ arts abroad, CLICK HERE
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