Ten thousands objects; one painting

10,000 Objects, Alexander Bartleet
Warwick Henderson Gallery
Until April 9th

The still life painting has been a part of the artist’s vocabulary for thousands of years with some major painters such as Picasso giving the mundane object an iconic status. The everyday items of the house and studio have been easy and accessible subject matter and they allow the artist to use simple objects to explore the elemenst of colour, light, form and texture.

In his recent exhibition “10,000 Objects” Alexander Bartleet has produced works which elevate the common object, making them part of a complex world.

He uses dozens of small objects which are assembled into a sculptural installation which are then sealed with layers of paint, sanded, repainted and further reworked.

His preservation of the everyday is reminiscent of the work produced by The Boyle Family who replicate sections of the environment and who produced the large work “The Gisborne Triptych”, full size recreations of parts of a Gisborne street, now in the Auckland Art Gallery

At a distance the works look like large maps or complex circuitry but as one gets closer the individual items become apparent and we appear to be looking at a snapshot of a rubbish dump or an extremely messy work bench or child’s room.

With so many individual items in each other works they are intriguing puzzles suggesting a narratives or a meaning. So “Red and White Rough” ($2500) with its remnants of computer keyboard or “Green Rough” $2500 with bits of discarded cassette could be a commentary on communication and technology.

With several of the works he experiments with the colours overlaid on the objects so that “Spectrum” ($3750) features rainbow colours while “Sections” ($3750) with its four distinct painted areas is something of homage to geometric abstraction.

“Light Brown Rough” ($3750) appears to have a patina of rubbed age while “Black Dots’ ($3750) with its clean white surface and black dots is cool and sophisticated.

The largest of the works, “White Rough - 4 panels” ($20,000) is nearly three metres square and the mural-like scale of the work has the appearance of a massive archaeological dig.

There is a fascination with way the artist has altered the discarded material, turning it from rubbish into something pure, clean and magical.

The artist says of his work “I prefer to use found objects as opposed to their transferred or representational images. Preserved within the surfaces, discarded and forgotten objects are presented in a new light. I also aim to achieve unfamiliarity with my subjects, to reactivate them within the context of art and offer fresh prospects and potential to adopt new relationships and characteristics”,

Bartleet has previously won the Mazda Emerging Artis Award and the Team McMillan BMW Art Award


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