John Hurrell – 30 August, 2018
Visually refreshing, the cardboard paintings lack the complex overlapping forms of the works on linen, celebrating instead understatement and emphasising clarity of shape. 'Satellite of Love' is particularly clever with its playing off of diagonal versus perpendicular vectors and shapely edges.
8 August - 1 September 2018
Eight new acrylic paintings by Denys Watkins are presented in the three rooms on the northern, K’Rd side of the Ivan Anthony Gallery, a 50/50 mixture of modest sized canvases and smaller works on brown cardboard which are framed and under glass. The latter are less busy than the former, being more decisive and without fiddly fussiness. The four corrugated cardboard works are stunning.
Visually refreshing, these cardboard paintings lack the complex overlapping forms of the works on linen, celebrating instead understatement and emphasising clarity of shape. Satellite of Love is particularly clever with its playing off of diagonal versus perpendicular vectors and shapely edges.
Whilst the four linen works are slightly more liquid in paint application, and feature meandering ribbons of entangled line, there is a sense of grand orchestration and manipulation of double edges, slivers of colour that peek out from behind dark forms, and a tendency to move toward chaos—a rarity for Watkins.
By stating that last point I’m not being dismissive. I find Watkins’ flirtation with the shambolic enthralling. Within his more complex complications there are peek-a-boo ‘games’ going on with coloured circles, white oblongs, and various half obscured edges. Dusty Trails is especially intriguing spatially; its different layers are beautifully coordinated; Watkins never relinquishes control.
There are some surprises. One work, Elias Says, references McCahon but throws in lettering that looks like cubist or dada collage, but it’s not—it’s fastidiously painted to look like a printed font. The text also says ‘Live it up,’ and shows a skateboard. It is a joke about jumping perhaps, and faith? An update on McCahon’s views on risk for a much later generation.
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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