Art Seen: August 24

In this week's Art Seen, Robyn Maree Pickens looks at exhibitions from Inge Doesburg Gallery, and Mike Crawford

Rain (2017), by Peter Cleverley
Rain (2017), by Peter Cleverley
Group exhibition (Inge Doesburg)

In the fine tradition of group exhibitions, Inge Doesburg Gallery is currently showing an emblematic selection of works by various artists represented by Inge Doesburg. The artists represented are Kakanui local Peter Cleverley, Kathryn Madill, Zuna Wright, Justin Spiers, Kim Pieters, Kirsten Ferguson and Inge Doesburg. The works range from abstraction to figurative; from works on paper to oil on canvas, but are predominantly small to medium-sized.

Madill's small prints are particularly engaging. In an enigmatic style reminiscent of Tony Fomison, Madill depicts shadowy worlds of hybrid human-animals or humanimal figures, such as sheep-people, and a ''merman'' complete with shirt and tails. Her figures occupy the middle ground of hypothetical transfigurations and transformations.

Cleverley's oil on canvas and hardboard paintings are another standout. Cleverley spent time in a fishing village on a small island south of Naples and in Sicily, and his loosely figurative paintings featuring a mountain motif may bear the influence of this time. Ultimately, however, it is unimportant whether the pure powdery blue of one such mountain painting, Rain (2015), is inspired by the light of Kakanui or Italy.

Doesburg is also home to Spiers' compelling photographs and portraits (some of which are also hanging in the studio space beyond the main gallery), and to Pieters' award-winning paintings.


Waka Huia (2017), by Mike Crawford
Waka Huia (2017), by Mike Crawford
New Works (Milford Galleries)

Part of the enjoyment of viewing (and reviewing) a tightly-curated group exhibition such as ''New Works'' at Milford Galleries is teasing out the connections between works. While there are many connections to be found in ''New Works'', one of the clearest is a bird or avian leitmotif running through the show. In this exhibition the form of birds are articulated in a range of media from corrugated iron (Hannah Kidd) to glass (Mike Crawford), porcelain (Bridie Henderson), and painting (Nigel Brown). Through this avian lens it is also possible to interpret Ben Pearce's large corten steel sculpture Aspect 2 (2017), in which irregular shapes rest on the point of those beneath to form a kind of ''neck'', as a work about balance - in relation to gravity and flight.

Crawford's glass bird sculptures make a strong case for cast glass as the medium for capturing the finesse of bird line, curve and movement. Despite the weight and solidity of the medium, his glass bird sculptures have an unexpected lightness and striking grace.

Where Crawford captures the form and line of birds, Henderson uses porcelain to realise the fine detail of feathers. Taking the form of a necklace or lei, the porcelain feathers are installed in a lightbox concealing LED lights which illuminates them from behind. Brown's timely painted messages also highlight the place of birds in eco-systems.

-By Robyn Maree Pickens

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