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Cowlard’s Billboards

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David Cowlard, Unreliable Landscapes -- Downtown, Auckland, 2017 (I-III). Photo: Sam Hartnett David Cowlard, Unreliable Landscapes -- Downtown, Auckland, 2017 (I-III). Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnet David Cowlard, Unreliable Landscapes -- Downtown, Auckland, 2017 (I-III). Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnet David Cowlard, Unreliable Landscapes -- Downtown, Auckland, 2017 (I-III). Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnet David Cowlard, Unreliable Landscapes -- Downtown, Auckland, 2017 (I-III). Detail. Photo: Sam Hartnet

With their destabilising perspectival 'evanescence’, Cowlard’s vibrant trio make you look ‘through’ the cream concrete block wall on Reeves Rd that supports them, bearing down on a shot of the construction site for the new City Rail Link for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. The two vastly separated sites are sandwiched together.

Te Tuhi Billboards

Auckland

 

David Cowlard
Unreliable Landscapes - Downtown, Auckland, 2017 (I - III)

 

9 June - 11 August 2019

Lined up opposite the Te Tuhi entrance, David Cowlard‘s three ‘screen-grabbed’ and manipulated images of skyscraper facades in downtown Auckland (at the bottom of Queen St), play with vanishing points, subtracted elements and reflecting planes so that we become unsure of our spatial positioning.

Are we looking up, down or across, through glass windows, or at their reflections? Strangely painterly in their simplified pale bands or blocks of colour, these ‘hoardings’ are not as chromatically or tonally integrated as photographs.

Examining their composition, there is a ubiquitous sense of underpinning, angular, cut-out shapes. Sometimes sections of outer glass wall are sliced into and discarded, giving the images a collagelike feel where acute-angled geometry dominates.

Playing with plummeting depth yet toying with a modernist flattening out of the picture-plane, these billboards are reminiscent of seventies photo-realism paintings, but with steeply angled diagonals and sawtooth pixilated edges. As very large urban landscapes that are preoccupied with glass-coated architecture, their digitally screwed-with images are unnervingly beautiful.

With their destabilising perspectival ‘evanescence’, Cowlard‘s vibrant trio make you look ‘through’ the cream concrete block wall on Reeves Rd that supports them, bearing down on a shot of the construction site for the new City Rail Link for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. The two vastly separated sites are sandwiched together.

Because they celebrate great height and density of intersecting glass planes, Cowlard‘s three images of interwoven grids point to the contrasting horizontality of their (almost rural) Pakuranga location. They themselves almost give you vertigo, looking down towards slivers of green sea, off to one side, peeking through the towering shimmering verticals of Auckland’s waterfront.

John Hurrell

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