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JH

Wallis’ Compression With Detail

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Rebecca Wallis, Found...barely wrapped, 2013, gouache on canvas, 1200 x 1200 mm Rebecca Wallis, Found...slowly seeping, 2013, gouache on canvas, 1200 x 1200 m Rebecca Wallis, Found...overturned and glistening, 2013, gouache on canvas, 1200 x 1200 m Rebecca Wallis, Found...falling away, 2013, gouache on canvas, 1200 x 1200 m Rebecca Wallis, Found...in the ebb and flow, 2013, gouache on canvas, 1200 x 1200 m Rebecca Wallis, Found...holding together, 2013, gouache on canvas, 1200 x 1200 m

Packed with juxtaposed, suggestive glimpses of different textures, these often veiled forms bring opposing morphologies together, using an allusive fluidity to combine what could be discarded bones and rows of teeth with bleached logs, clumps of tussock, crumbling rocks and animal pelts.

Auckland

 

Rebecca Wallis
FOUND…parts

 

28 May - 15 June 2013

The six gouache paintings on comparatively large canvases by Rebecca Wallis at Orexart surprise with their unusual use of this medium, not dwelling on the velvety opacity gouache is normally known for, but instead exploiting graphic qualities made by precise and superfine drawing, fixed and then partially obliterated with white washes. As if made using transparent watercolour, delicate and intense, these deliberately jumbled snatches of detail oscillate between abstraction and an odd archaeological dig or country ramble: a violent turbulence checked within curved borders by poured on white.

Packed with juxtaposed, suggestive glimpses of different textures, these often veiled forms bring opposing morphologies together, using an allusive fluidity to combine what could be discarded bones and rows of teeth with bleached logs, clumps of tussock, crumbling rocks and animal pelts. Hints of Stanley Palmer and Alistair Nisbet-Smith flicker through these buckled compacted hybrids, because of their restless figuration, while seventies watercolourist Rosemary Campbell is suggested by the liquidity of the painting process. While savage they do not hauntingly disturb, being creepy but not genuinely nightmarish. This is because despite their surrealism and odd compression they seem highly evocative of high country near the snowline - and such components are familiar to any Kiwi tramper.

Despite their overt ties to illustration and landscape - exuding an odd fustiness - Wallis’s partially covered images intrigue. They are hard to pin down, being jammed with observational detail and jostling surplus textures that are almost thrown in a heap. The organisation within the careful cropping seems random, as if tipped out from a bucket. Your eye skitters around like a drunken frog jumping from particular to particular; you keep on landing on new things: spilled intestines, torn flesh, gnarly roots and shredded leaves. New details keep bubbling to the surface in this phantasmagoric stew.

In that way these square works are filmic and deliriously incoherent - internally - inside the enclosing field. The disparate fragments (like stills) take precedence over the whole which avoids logical sense and coherent structure. You look into the surface, through it to the graphic intricacy and detail that appears fortuitously sampled - and then out at the bright white bordering paint that is like liquid icing, at spots where it has pooled and thickened. The works are akin to Arcimboldo meets Dale Frank, but their ties to illustration and precisely drawn figuration link them to virtuoso printmakers like Barry Cleavin. There is a hint of the transience of life, a sense that ‘all is fleeting’, and that the world in all its aspects is inherently brutal and unforgiving. No exceptions allowed.

John Hurrell

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