Drawing prize features a catastrophic winner

Parkin Drawing Prize
New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington
Until August 28

The 90 finalists in the annual Parkin Drawing Awards have produced a remarkable range of drawing styles from the incredibly simple to the incredibly complex, from the conceptual to the highly detailed, demonstrating that drawing in all its forms is still practised and provides a useful tool for investigating, exploring and expressing.

The winner, who received an award of $20,000, chosen from the 90 finalists and 429 entries, was Hannah Beehre with her large work Catastrophe (priced at $7500), which was described by the judge, Jenny Harper of the Christchurch Art Gallery, as large scale but also exploratory. It’s a riveting rendition of an earthly catastrophe: bats, rats, frogs and maybe a dog or a human are caught up in a primal fall. The world is malevolent, rather than sustaining. Everything and everyone is falling into an imagined abyss, some helping others, some grasping whatever they can to help break the fall. The work could go on, as intimated by the continuing roll of paper at its base.

She also noted its similarities to Chinese scroll painting where perspective does not conform to Western idea of landscape perspective

The work also has connections to the work of J M W Turner and Baroque trompe l’oeil ceilings with a strong drama in the depiction as well as the rendition.

At one end of the spectrum is the conceptual work of Catherine English with her Drawing X 2076 ($5000) comprising a stack of artists' notebooks, though none of the drawings displayed. One can only assume that the books contain the artist's entire output. The work has similarities to last year’s winner Gabrielle Amodeo. The Floor We Walk On which comprised a number of books containing rubbings of the floors of the artist’s apartment.

There were a number of highly detailed portraits including one with an exquisite surface created by Phil Andrews, Girl in the Hood ($19,000) and the strong tattooed face Anaru ($15,000) by Eleanor Wright. Also of note was Sam Harrison’s Portrait ($7000) where the face dissolves into shadow.

There were also a couple of life drawing which could have come out of a 19th century academic salon in Tatyana’ Kulida’s Dance of Creation ($2200) and Mark Anstis’ Life drawing of Nicci ($1375).

Highly detailed rendering was also a feature of the work of Martin Ball with his image Taped iii ($4000) featuring three strips of paper taped to a wall and Karyn Roberts Pavement 1 ($1450), a highly detailed piece of pavement and weeds.

Roberts' work has similarities to a number of contemporary practitioners including the Chinese artist Chou Chu-Wang  showing at White Rabbit in Sydney. Other artists also seem to have links to other artists Tom Armstrong’s Pushmepullyou ($500) has links to early 20th century artists such as Picasso. Karina Balea-Raitz’s VII ($17,000) looks like a Frank Stella drawing while Wendy Bornholdt’s Drawings wrapped in tissue with milk jug 090516 ($3000) could have come from the studio of Chardin.

Among the other striking works are Paul Cullen’s elegant The Auckland Plan ($1000), Ellie Compton’s The Transparent Hotel ($1800) looking like a Heath Robinson construction which allows no room for patrons and Aaron Waghorn’s Day and Night ($2200) where sinuous lines manage to create an apparition somewhere between a pond and a galaxy.

Ten highly commended prizes worth $500.00 each were awarded.to Duncan Anderson, Dismissed; Tom Armstrong, Pushmepullyou; Sam Harrison, Portrait; Martin Ball, Taped iii; Paul Cullen, The Auckland Plan; Karina Balea-Raitz, VII; Andre Hemer, New Tuscan Sunset Scans; Gill Newland, Three stitches and a turn, Ina Johann, Parallel Lines – mapping another life, Marie le Lievre, Hysterical memes.