Art seen: December 17

Mess I, by Campbell Patterson
Mess I, by Campbell Patterson
"Cold Lake", Campbell Patterson

(Olga Gallery)

CAMPBELL PATTERSON’S exhibition at Olga is an array of works in which the repeated, obsessive layering of paint has produced an enigmatic group of abstract images.

"Enigmatic" well describes much of Patterson’s art, which has ranged from video work to conceptual constructions. In the current exhibition, these dynamic media have been replaced by what initially seem to be simple two-dimensional works on canvas.

A closer inspection reveals that this is far from the case. The surfaces appear to be grooved, as if the painted surface has been gouged to reveal a substrate painted in a different hue. This is not, however, Patterson’s modus operandi. Rather than being layers which have been removed to reveal a background, these are layers which have been painstakingly added to the substrate, their hard edges painted in place so as to leave a small amount of the base colour showing. After numerous repeated layerings, these canvases build up like satellite images of the Grand Canyon, the clear areas revealing the undercoated valley floor. This obsessive approach is seemingly at odds with the simplicity of the abstract designs.

Accompanying these works are two digital prints and an intriguing painting, Unsure. Although these works are fascinating in their own right, they seem at odds with the rest of the exhibition.

The Mariner, by Tony Williams
The Mariner, by Tony Williams

"Christmas Exhibition 2020", Tony Williams

(Otago Art Society)

MASTER jeweller Tony Williams has produced an exquisite collection of work for his current show at the Otago Art Society rooms. The display, which comprises new and older work, is a showcase of Williams’ talents, and contains some extraordinary pieces.

Over the years, Williams has collected many fine gems, and well understands the personality that each brings with it. As such, he has often waited until just the right moment presents itself to reveal these items to their fullest. This patience and sense of the right stone for the right occasion has led to the creation of some astonishing pieces, all beautifully worked in precious metal, often with the accompaniment of delicate enamelwork. Many of the pieces are enclosed within their own handmade containers by local craftsman Jeffrey Chambers, which are themselves works of art.

One of the newest stars to this array is the Pearl Fly, an intricately shaped insect in platinum, diamond, pearl, and lapis lazuli. The wings of this work are hinged, so that they can pivot to open or closed positions. The centrepiece of the exhibition, though, is The Mariner, an elegant seabird in enamelled platinum inset with pearl, diamond and ruby. This piece, inspired by Coleridge’s epic poem, is simply stunning.

Balance no. 8, by Dallas Henley
Balance no. 8, by Dallas Henley

"Endurance", Robert Scott, Dallas Henley and Lana Oranje

(Pea Sea Gallery)

"ENDURANCE" is a display of work by a triumvirate of artists, currently on display at Pea Sea Gallery. The artists comprise the two owners of Pea Sea, Robert Scott and Dallas Henley, and Lana Oranje.

Oranje’s works are six figurines, each standing about half a metre tall. They are in two groups, of three suffragettes and three Frida Kahlos, all hand-created from card, fabric, and papier mache. There is a warmth and charm to these characters, especially given the dedication to detail — the Kahlos, for example, are each dressed in the artist’s famous traditional Mexican style, specifically modelled on clothing held at the Casa Azul Frida Kahlo museum.

Scott’s works are perhaps the best-known of those on display, and use a mix of gentle rolling Otago countryside and seemingly incongruous features, such as astronauts. There is a quaint rustic beauty to many of the works, such as his study of a railway building at Owhiro.

Henley’s works are attractive geometric abstractions. Her work is minimalist and has the initial look of screen printing, although the works are painstakingly hand painted. Henley deliberately uses aged drawing paper as a base, allowing any marks and stains to provide a welcome random element to her formal designs.

James Dignan

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