Art seen: February 25

“Untitled”, by Michael Springer
“Untitled”, by Michael Springer

‘‘As the Tongue Returns to the Jagged Stump of Tooth'', Michael Springer (Mint Gallery)

Christchurch artist Michael Springer's show at Mint features several large acrylic works on found sheets of board and - in one case - a piece of industrial carpeting.

The artist has deliberately avoided providing information about the pieces, or even an artist's statement, effectively forcing viewers to look for their own interpretations.

Springer's works are parades of grotesques, humanoid and animal forms filling the picture space in cheek-to-jowl displays.

The images are painted in bold, earthy tones and using strong black delineations.

The paint is forcefully applied, the textures of the surface often dictating the interplay of colour and form.

The surrealistic pieces show the influences of many artists - here Giger, there McCahon, further on Basquiat.

Despite this, Springer has created a whole from the many parts, producing a distinctive style of nightmare bestiary.

Several of the works, all untitled, stand out.

One, framed in golden wood, seems an interpretation of an Aboriginal Dreamtime scene.

A long narrow meat-red work displays a series of impossible creatures who could be all travelling in the same direction, or possibly engaged in more intimate activity.

A stark work in yellow-edged black and cream, and a more complex rhythmical piece in black and white, accented in lurid green, are also standouts.


“Castles in the Air”, by Kirsty Warman
“Castles in the Air”, by Kirsty Warman

‘‘A Spool of Pink Thread'', Kirsty Warman (The Artist's Room)

Kirsty Warman's exhibition at The Artist's Room explores first impressions, and the indelible marks left by such meetings.

In a series of bright acrylics, accompanied by a smaller group of works in ink on paper, the artist presents interpretations of character in manner which is whimsical yet with a slight sinister edge.

Warman claims that, by eschewing traditional realism and the conventions of portraiture, she has attempted to capture an ‘‘abstract sparkle'', thereby challenging the absolutes of identity and appearance.

Although there is a clear move away from realism, there are antecedents to Warman's style, particularly at the borders of surrealism and expressionism.

Her distorted harlequin figures find common territory with historical images by the likes of Chagall and Schiele, containing much of the playful lightness of touch and colour of the former, with some of the unsettling depths of the latter.

Repetition of pattern is an important element in Warman's images, creating motifs of fabric upon the clothing and faces which stare from the negative space of largely empty backgrounds.

The painted forms are caricatured and marked in bold slashes of paint, allowing the figures to stand free from their surroundings in a satisfying way.


“Toutoutwai — Forest Guardian”, by Chris Heaphy
“Toutoutwai — Forest Guardian”, by Chris Heaphy

‘‘Show & Tell'' (Milford Gallery)

‘‘Show and Tell'' is the second of Milford Gallery's start-of-year group shows, this display focusing on new works.

Eight artists are represented in the exhibition, several of them familiar to visitors to the Milford, others of them new.

Wendy Fairclough's excellent glasswork is a feature.

With her ‘‘Murray River Cameo'', in particular, she has produced an excellent group of hand-blown pieces, layered in strong colour to form an impressionistic riverscape, the oranges and blues also creating a sensual surface to the pieces.

Zena Elliott's pieces are also of note, combining traditional Maori motifs with semi-architectural forms to produce a satisfying amalgam which could be considered an updated Maori art deco.

Reuben Paterson's glitter work has also reached a new level, with astonishingly fine line work now entering into his repertoire, something seemingly impossible given his preferred medium.

Of the newer artists, Hannah Beehre's exquisite sky scenes threaten to steal the show.

These beautiful subtle images, artistic interpretations of astronomical photographs, are created from dye, acrylic, and crystal on velvet.

Cat Auburn's draped hangings in leather are impressive, playing with the concepts of delicate drapery and the durability and strength of their composition, and the rippling sheen of Israel Birch's lacquerwork on steel catches and holds the eye.

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