Mark Braunias exhibition Field of Vision opens at Pah Homestead

Painting No. 3, Oil on canvas, 1993, Collection of the Wallace Arts Trust.

Mark Braunias: Field of Vision
Pah Homestead, Auckland
Until September 4

It’s significant that the Adam Portraiture Awards (Until August 21) are on at the Pah Homestead at the same time as it provides something of a background for the Mark Braunias exhibition Field of Vision as his work focuses on portraiture and the figure.

Fields of Vision comprises various themes, as well as details about the working processes of Mark Braunias from 1989 to 2016, giving prominence to selected works from the James Wallace Arts Trust Collection and the artist’s personal archives. The exhibition is divided into chronological order through the various rooms of Pah Homestead culminating in a work-in-progress on the gallery wall itself (to be completed during the exhibition’s time frame).

In much of his earlier work Braunias dealt with notions of identity. This often manifests itself in acute and humorous social observations and a hybrid of biological/mechanical transformations, all in various stages of evolution/devolution. Satire underpins much of Braunias’ work, though his figures and forms often reveal a strange pathos suggesting a longing to co-exist in a world, or worlds, of uncertainty. The artist has worked with a variety of media and genres; painting, drawing and animation as well as collaborating with other artists and a number of these collaborations are featured in the exhibition.

This investigation of the way in which identities are shaped and perceived can be seen in two lager works in the foyer gallery. One is Black Order featuring a group of All Blacks while Hidden Identities shows a group of men at a boardroom table, their eyes blacked out.

The eyes are also blacked out in Painting No 1”3 featuring a couple of tourists with cameras. His blacking out the eyes and other techniques highlights some of the notions behind Fields of Vision, questioning the way in which people look at and respond to their environments and each other, often from a blinkered perspective.

Strictly Classified shows a number of features of the artist’s work – the painting of a couple of dozen figures is done on a collaged background of newspaper page. One of the central “portraits “is actually a photograph printed in the newspaper while there is also his version of a Van Gogh portrait.

There are a number of his paintings of surreal biomorphic figures – a combination of creative doodle, cartoons and abstract ideas. Some of these are like images from a children’s picture book, others are like descriptions of scientific concepts while others are close to nightmarish voyages to the interior of the self as with Viewfinders.

Scrutinising the curious nature of behaviours in these and many other works, in Field of Vision Braunias provides insights into his work with the inclusion of pages from many of his drawing books in digital form on an interactive computer screen. It is an intriguing proposition as drawing is Braunias’ most active modus operandi in his processes of arriving at ideas, visually and conceptually. These sets of drawings show the artist producing an encyclopaedic collection of observations.

Tune into NBR Radio’s Sunday Business with Andrew Patterson on Sunday morning, for analysis and feature-length interviews.


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