Four paintings catch the eye

Four paintings from four Auckland exhibitions – from $80 to $23,000.

Cross Purposes
Seed Gallery

Seed Gallery has invited 30 artists, working across various disciplines and media, to work with a set template: a 105x105mm wooden cross.

The resulting exhibition showcases 300 miniature artworks reflecting each artist’s approach to painting.

Kylie Rusk’s 10 works are of the volcanic cones of Auckland, including One Tree Hill ($80).

The cross shape takes on a sense of a mapping grid, being imposed on the view. There is also a sense that these miniature landscape are part of a larger view of the Auckland landscape.

Andre Hemer, Hot Wallpapers
Antoinette Godkin Gallery

The works created in Hot Wallpapers began with a downloaded set of wallpaper images taken from a popular tablet device which were developed with the intention of creating a visual branding for the device.

By making these digital images into objects – both printed and painted – Hemer is expanding the idea of working with found objects into the digital realm.

Wallpaper 05 smudged ($2700) appears to combine Gothic script with contemporary text, morphing human anatomy and biological samples with celestial forms. 

The work look as though it could have been composed with urgent gestural marks, painstakingly developed or instantly created as a digital image.

Rohan Wealleans and Karl Fritsch, Knuckle Fresser
Ivan Anthony Gallery

Rohan Wealleans' works rely largely on constructing multiple layers of paint, creating thick skins from which he then remove sections and slices. 

In the large work, Spider Bitemare ($21,000), the excised surface is like an exposed geological or biological body, where the artist has cut through a physical object as well as time.

Spider Bitemare, with its mounds and crevices, is intersected by chains made up of lumps of the artist’s material cut into facetted shapes, something between jewels and licorice allsorts.

The surreal, alien blob appears to pulsate with a life with its strange lace-like surface and protuberances and tendrils.

Ray Ching, Aesop’s Kiwi Fables
Artis Gallery

Throughout history Aesop’s fables which were first compiled into a set of books by ancient Greek orators they have retold and reimagined in modern culture, literature and in art by such prominent figures as Marc Chagall and Alexander Calder.

Artist Ray Ching has also given the fable tradition an entirely new location and cast. Aesop’s fables have left their origins in Greece and ancient Europe and set in the distant isles of New Zealand.

The large paintings which are the illustrations for his latest book of new fables include The Huia and Kokako ($23,000) and tells a clever tale (see below for text) about the way New Zealand native birds acquired their colouring.

He depicts the two birds involved in hand (beak) painting themselves from a pot of Dulux paint.

The work combines the artist's extraordinary attention to ornithological detail as well as an astute rendering of foliage. The artist’s hand-lettered story is crammed into small triangular sections at the corners of the paintings.

The overall effect in combining art and literature is visually captivating along with large doses of charm and wit as well as being a clever metaphor for the art of painting itself.

A new publication accompanies this exhibition – Aesop's Kiwi Fables: Paintings by Ray Ching, with an introduction by Richard Wolfe, featuring 47 paintings by Ray Ching. Published by Bateman. RRP$48

The fable of The Huia and Kokako: A great, long while ago, when the plumage of all birds was dull grey, Kokako and Huia agreed each to paint patterns on the other in order to enhance their beauty and importance.

First it was the turn of Huia to be painted a handsome glossy black and to watch Kokako deftly add the lovely white tips to each of its 12 tail feathers.

Just as the task was completed, a great war amongst all animals broke out and the birds scattered into forests, far and wide.

Huia never did return to decorate Kokako. Years passed and the Huia, whose fine feathers were so greatly admired and praised, is no longer.

The Kokako, on the other hand, is to this day content to be plain and grey.