John Hurrell – 15 August, 2014
Here with this almost indecipherable grey substance, the relief wall sculpture seems to become a form of photograph, with multiple focii, with multiple protruding planes. The projecting collage relief then from a distance takes on the appearance of painted on sludge that you have to squint into to decode.
Behind the line of care
6 August - 6 September 2014
In this show of assorted Peter Madden flat wall collages (or deep vertical trays) and freestanding paper sculptures, about half the works are in black and white - mixed with understated chroma - and the rest are in carefully composed ‘normal’ bolder colour. Madden has been exploring a tonal pursuit for a few years now, an exciting but gradual move that seems to bring with it new nuances not spotlighted before in colour. In both types of collage, backgrounds of metallic paint are an important component.
Many of the works are based on the structure of the human head and shoulders. Some of the coloured collages feature comparatively large sections of cut-out facial imagery, but others are very intricate and elaborate with very small components, composite portraits that have a vaguely northern Indian (Hindu) or Nepalese (Tantric) mood. Their multiple surging images accentuate the teeming plethora of our planet’s life-forms, and seem to allude to fierce Gods with multiple facial parts and limbs. The edges of the overall constructed forms are - because their complexity - naturally diffuse and amorphous. You have to get quite close to have a sense of the motivation behind the composition, because at a certain distance the tiny individual units of pinned up flora and fauna optically dissolve into a strange homogenous visual ‘gunk’ - especially with the black and white.
Here with this almost indecipherable grey substance, the relief wall sculpture seems to become a form of photograph, with multiple focii, with multiple protruding planes. The projecting collage relief then from a distance takes on the appearance of painted on sludge that you have to squint into to decode. That ‘brushed on’ photograph in turn becomes a type of barely readable text, with the intricately detailed minutiae potentially perceived as symbols clustered in paragraphs or sentence blocks, clumps of nouns in juxtaposed array.
This ambiguous shifting around is part of Madden’s appeal, the slippery way you skip from one interpretative strategy to another as a form of bodily engagement, driven by your temporary inability to focus, and encouraged by the liquid nature of the densely packed - but not immediately apparent - streaming images that celebrate each diminutive sign as part of a blurrily composite aggregate.
One unusual experiment is Poem, a work that with its different fonts and jumbled letters is like - uncharacteristically of Madden - a poster. It is a speech balloon with eight ‘mouthpieces’, implying that the bubble contains a community of thought about to be verbally articulated. The latent on the verge of being made manifest.
To read a transcript of the panel discussion “Whose Oceania?” held recently in London, and more on NZ arts abroad, CLICK HERE
Comprehensive online access to contemporary art & leading galleries around the world
Love to hear orchestral classical music live?
CLICK HERE to follow this orchestra’s adventurous performing programme