Art Seen: December 07

In this week's Art Seen, James Dignan looks at exhibitions from Jo Ogier and the Otago Museum.

NZ Robin/Toutouwai, by Jo Ogier.
NZ Robin/Toutouwai, by Jo Ogier.
''Memento'', Jo Ogier (Inge Doesburg Gallery)

Jo Ogier continues her exploration of native New Zealand bird life in two lovely series of works at the Inge Doesburg Gallery.

The larger group of images is a series of ''souvenir badges'', exquisite hand-coloured etchings. The designs have been meticulously hand-created before the chemical-coated plates have been exposed to sunlight to etch away sections of the print plate.

The resulting plates have been used to produce enchanting bird cameos, each set against a backdrop of traditional New Zealand woollen blanket pattern. The fine detail in the feathers in images such as NZ Robin/Toutouwai is remarkable, and the birds (and one lone tuatara) have been captured in a way that straddles the line between photorealism and traditional illustration.

I cannot help thinking that these designs would make a wonderful set of postage stamps, should NZ Post be looking for ideas for its next definitive set.

The remaining works are something of a departure for Ogier. The bird images are still precisely captured, but the grassland backdrops have been painted in a much freer way. Individual strands of grass are clearly evoked, but there is a gestural freedom within the backgrounds that is a loosening up of the artist's usual style.


Women’s Power, by Dawei Lay
Women’s Power, by Dawei Lay
''Burma Express'' (Skinner Annex, Otago Museum)

The end of Myanmar's military government has seen slow progress towards opening the country.

While the nation still has massive problems, most notably in the refugee crisis in the country's north, the gradual thaw has at least seen a flowering of political and protest art, something which was until recently suppressed.

Some fine examples of this are on display at Otago Museum, in an exhibition in support of the New Zealand Asian Studies Society Conference. The work of 26 artists from throughout Myanmar is presented, much of it of a political nature.

There is a fine cross-section of styles on display, ranging from the brutal abstraction of Aung Myint's Contra through to Zwe Mon's rich pointillism and Myint Than's gentle watercolours.

In many of the pieces, the political message is implied subtly, breaking to the surface more openly only occasionally in the queue for water (and by analogy, for hope and freedom) shown in Co Thiee's Waiting For, Brang Li's silhouetted refugees, and the dove of peace, still at arms length for Myint Soe's The Dancer.

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