Art seen: December 10

"In the Eleventh Hour", by Jason Greig.
"In the Eleventh Hour", by Jason Greig.

‘‘Acqua Daemonia'', Jason Greig (Brett McDowell Gallery)

Jason Greig's annual shows at the Brett McDowell Gallery have become a bit of a tradition.

Greig's dark, sinister images, redolent of Victorian gothic fiction and reminiscent of the symbolist art of Redon and Rops, strike a deep, if chilling, chord with many gallery regulars, and the artist's skills lift the work out of what could potentially seem a cliched subject.

At times the artist has given a sly wink to his influences, notably in the title of Lovebein Holcraft II, with its Holbein-like portrait and Lovecraft-like atmosphere.

Greig's latest exhibition is an intriguing mix.

Several of the works, with their images of boats on an open sea, hark back to an older, brighter style.

Even in these images, though, there is subtle haunted danger lurking beneath the surface; half-formed faces loom from the depths.

As with other Greig exhibitions, the artist's choice of hand-worked and found frames adds greatly to the mood of the images; one work, She is the Moon, is particularly memorable.

Its octagonal chip-carved frame, found in a second-hand shop, gives a subtle Art Deco feel to to the piece, and the milky green of the painting's lustrous, smooth acrylic surface give it the appearance of a single block of pounamu rather than board.


“Elvy Stream Waterfall, Pelorus 2013”, by Wayne Barrar
“Elvy Stream Waterfall, Pelorus 2013”, by Wayne Barrar

‘‘Small and Key'' (Milford Galleries Dunedin)

Milford Galleries Dunedin  currently hosts two group shows, one of which - ‘‘Small & Key'' - deliberately focuses on a multitude of small works by 11 artists.

It is arranged such that it virtually becomes 11 tiny exhibitions.

The works are excellently arranged so each artist's work resonates with other pieces nearby. Wayne Barrar's moody antique-toned landscape photographs are echoed in the ambiguous, hypnotic oil-on-metal scenes of Garry Currin and the mixed media and painted mists of Simon Edwards.

Further along, Reuben Paterson's trademark wallpaper and koru-inspired glitter works form small stained-glass windows, reflecting the depths of Stephen Bradbourne's exquisite sensuous glasswork.

John Parker's excellent ceramic forms, arrayed like chesspieces, play off each other beautifully to become a stage full of glazed actors.

If there is a particular theme to the art itself, it would be the imaginary land and landscape; many of the artists have used their own symbology and symbolism to create narratives that fall between surrealism and magic realism.

Prime examples of this can be found in Jenna Packer's alternative Otago history and its allegorical future/past images.

Andy Leleisi'uao's enigmatic anthropological friezes also fit this category, as does the soft high-key mystery of Lorene Taurerewa's sinister portraits.



‘‘Bloom'', Anna Reid (Moray Gallery)

Anna Reid's  ‘‘Bloom'' is an exploration both of the structure and elegance of flowers, and of the artist's printmaking techniques.

Flowers have long been a passion for the artist, and in this exhibition she has been drawn to what she describes as their sculptural quality and delicate bleed of colour.

Concentrating primarily on magnolias and irises, Reid has used a variety of printmaking skills and techniques to produce a fine, beguiling set of works.

In many of the pieces, Reid has used a variety of different processes, overlaying one on the other to build up the metaphorical petals of her blooms.

Monotype and drypoint work has been used for the majority of the flower depictions, and then heavily textured paper, largely from antique wallpapers, has been brought into service, creating bold collagraphic overlays.

In several of the works, extra elements, such as gold leaf and charcoal, have been added to the artistic process, producing a yet richer, but still clear, finished product.

The resulting images are as multifaceted and rich as the flowers they depict.

The clever use of the diverse techniques - and particularly the overlaid wallpaper textures - has created a warm nostalgic feel to many of the works.

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