''Gericault to Gauguin: Printmaking in France,
1820-1900'', (Dunedin Public Art Gallery)
Le marechal Anglais (The English blacksmith), by
A touring collection illustrating 19th-century French
printmaking is a must-see at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
The display concentrates on a period during which the print
was reclaimed as a major art form, rather than simply a means
to create mass-produced commercial work. From the end of the
Napoleonic era, lithography, and later etching, were taken up
by painters as a means to extend their skills and explore the
themes in their work. The influence of overseas printmaking,
particularly that of the Orient, also had a profound effect
on French printmaking during the period.
The exhibition focuses not only on French artists, but also
on artists of other nationalities who came to France to
extend their knowledge and reputation. Works presented range
from the realist schools to later Impressionist and
A list of the artists in this exhibition reads like a roll
call of European art history: Renoir, Manet, Pissarro,
Lautrec ... but it is the less well-remembered names that
provide many of the delights. The wild, sketch-like lines of
Jean-Louis Forain's courtroom scene and a delicate riverscape
by Felix Bracquemond in particular caught my eye, though to
limit mention of individual works to two is to unfairly
neglect the many other works that make this exhibition well
worth a visit.
''Another touch of whimsy'', (The Artist's Room)
Viognier, by Sharon Singer.
It's often a little off-putting to consider an exhibition
primarily on the basis of its whimsicality, but whimsy is
nicely evoked by many of The Artist's Room's artists. As
such, the gallery has presented exhibitions of whimsical work
on a regular basis, and the latest collection hits the right
mark on the tightrope between the serious and the silly.
There is also a good balance between the styles of the
different artists involved in the exhibition. The almost
religious icon-like smoothness of Emma Butler's large,
calming works is counterpointed by Sharon Singer's free
brushstrokes, her violently green New Zealand scenes
threatening to dominate the gallery. Similarly, Crispin
Korschen's wispy ethereal introspections are met by the
solid, cartoon-like humour of Tony Cribb's Tin man.
Dotted around the gallery, bringing light-hearted relief with
their own eccentric nature, are ceramic works by Cheryl
Oliver and Helen Back. Both sets of figures become characters
in an outlandish circus, puncturing whatever remaining
sobriety there may be in the gallery space. Back's large
grotesques seem poised as slightly sinister yet delightful
ringmasters, ready to guide the viewer from one strange sight
to the next. Oliver's charmingly oddball figures are the
clowns, travelling along in their absurd yet somehow
perfectly appropriate vehicles.
''The Melbourne Drawings'', Jeffrey Harris(Dunedin
Public Art Gallery)
Looking toward St Kilda, by Jeffrey Harris.
Dedication, desperation, desolation. These words capture the
essence of a relationship through its phases from happiness
through break-up to loss. This narrative is detailed by
Jeffrey Harris in his ''Melbourne drawings'', displayed in
the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
The works date from the mid-1980s, when Harris had taken up
residency at the Victorian College of Arts. There, his art
practice expanded from its roots, both in terms of his
sources of inspiration and in terms of his artistic
surroundings. Some of the new influences which inspired
Harris are evident in these drawings, but the emotional heart
of them is very much the artist's own, to the point where we
view the destruction of the relationship depicted with a
The narrative flow of these works is strong. The images
become moments, 32 stations of the star-crossed, flowing from
the busy, socially active early days to the broader strokes
of two figures at odds, before moving to the existential
angst of the lone figure against a bleak skyline, and the
finality of empty desolation. The lines become darker,
thicker, bold even by Harris' usual dramatic standard, as the
protagonist moves though his own wasteland. Here we see the
artist in total control of his medium as a means of
exorcising the soul.