John Hurrell – 19 October, 2013
This show gives us another chance to look at some of the works' made with his glued-on, liquorice assort-like blocks of rubberised dry paint - some constructed three years ago. Those blocks look a little like the tesserae of mosaics, except Wealleans is a consummate colourist who is very particular about his sorting of hues, even if they are variations of grey and the envisaged subject-matter is say, a large deadly spider.
25 September - 19 October 2013
In this assorted display of paintings (wall assemblages), sculpture, photographs and collages - not all recent - Rohan Wealleans reminds us of his wide range of subject matter and approaches to materials. Though I think of him as a process driven abstractionist it could be convincingly argued he is more interested in symbolism, tribalism, and myth than what ‘abstract’ implies.
This show gives us another chance to look at some of the works’ made with his glued-on, liquorice assort-like blocks of rubberised dry paint - some constructed three years ago. Those blocks look a little like the tesserae of mosaics, except Wealleans is a consummate colourist who is very particular about his sorting of hues, even if they are variations of grey and the envisaged subject-matter is say, a large deadly ‘Black Widow’ spider. Despite being made by a sculptural process, the geometry of these paintings has a peculiar fifties feel, as if the blocks of colour (seen from a distance) have been made with a palette knife. Somebody like Nicolas de Staël, but cleaner and more precise in edge, and tonally much tighter.
Sometimes Wealleans combines this method with projecting teeth-lined craters that are hollow and which are surrounded by suspended ‘necklaces’ of threaded offcuts. Within his contextualising films, photographs, collages, and paintings that provide a certain kind of loaded narrative imagery that emphasises fecundity as well as landscape, Wealleans likes to encourage the sense that these empty ‘orifices’ are vaginal, rather than anal or oral. The large decorated canoe-shaped wall sculpture by the lefthand office is definitely vulval in form: a compressed slit-shaped, vesica piscis. This shape is painted again on one of the model’s bodies in his photographs.
These recent photographs, of partially clothed or naked female models decorated with garishly coloured make up and glued on, sliced-off paint peaks, are not so genitally centred as previously - as in the recent Gus Fisher ‘Porn show’. The body language is less overtly sexual in reference: more SciFi or medieval fantasy. The two potentially castrating women (one is pregnant) brandish swords, and with the drooping collaged contents of their speech bubbles, seem vengefully disposed where impotence is culpable.
Weallean’s other works are the collages with sprouting anemonelike forms bursting through the paper or card of comics or small boxed-over trading cards. Whilst these are undoubtedly fascinating, for me Wealleans is at his best as an innovative painter, using a rectangular format and paint as thick rubbery substance - testing the limits of that now carvable (thanks to him) genre. In saying that, I am also aware that his freestanding figurative sculpture, The Wizard of Forgotten Flesh, managed to successfully upstage almost all the competition on the occasion of the recent Auckland Art Fair, for like all significant artists he is forever testing out a range of creative possibilities, and never prematurely denying an intuition’s potential. MINDSTORM lets us follow some of these investigations, to watch his progress.
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