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BY JAMES DIGNAN
Milford Gallery has employed a little bit of titling subterfuge in its exhibition ‘‘New Works’’. While some of the pieces are newly created as the title suggests, others are older pieces new to local exhibition, and a further group of works are by an artist new to Milford’s stable, Kereama Taepa.
It is these latter pieces which seize the attention. Simultaneously reaching to the past and using the most modern of techniques and references, the artist has created a series of apparent wood carvings of traditional Maori forms. A closer inspection, however, reveals that not only do these pieces reference icons of video games in their design, but they are not carved but rather created using a 3-D printer. The pieces are attractively eye-catching and also thought-provoking.
Chris Heaphy also looks to both the past and present with his impressive silhouetted heads, each surrounded by the artist’s unique visual symbolism. Andy Leleisi’uao’s frieze-like works also employ a rigid personal language in their intriguing and enigmatic narratives.
The exhibition is completed by two series of abstract works. Peter Trevelyan’s fragile interconnectional patterns are sculpture stripped to its core, blueprints for solid forms which will never arise. Russell Moses’ multi-panelled works shimmer and glow, providing a rhythmically patterned window to the soft natural tones of Milford Sound.
"Faces", Philip Trusttum, (Brett McDowell Gallery)
The images are displayed in Trusttum’s trademark style, painted in big blocky forms on unstretched canvas, hanging unframed on the gallery walls. There is little that could be called subtle about the works, but that is not the artist’s aim. Instead, he presents his faces boldly, front and centre, staring down the viewer in strong caricature form.
In many of the works, the colours are muted, most especially in the three enigmatic Face works which open the exhibition, and which are perhaps its most intriguing pieces. Simple features look out from a surface which has been worked and lined in undercoat, giving the impression of creased and crumpled canvas. Deep earthy tones are also present in the less arcane but still confronting images of younger members of the artist’s family dressed in Halloween costumes ranging from skull masks to donkeys’ heads.
The brightest of the colours have been left for three large works, one self-portrait and two portraits of the artist’s wife. Using simple forms and slabs of strong hue, the works imply the faces more than present them directly, yet in the two portraits of wife Lee there is a clear love which shines from the canvas.
Emmellee Rose’s exhibition at Koru is a diverse and eclectic mix of painting, collage, and photography. Much of the work focuses on two distinct themes, mixed media pieces combining painting and collage, and manipulated photographic works.
The collaged images are abstractions created from slivers of image — often simple black and white or coloured stripes and grids — arranged in geometric forms against a plain painted background. The works are intriguing but maybe too busy to totally grab the attention, though when a focus has been added, as in the circle of small bird photos in Yellow Joy, or when simplified to the paint-only abstraction of Patterns, the images can be quite arresting.
It is the photographic works which are the stronger pieces on display, however. Whether presented in pure or near pure form, as in the evocative Rain image of Dunedin’s Chinese Garden, or in a more manipulated style, these pieces have an impressive strength. Many of the images have been created as mixed media works, printed on to loose, sometimes jagged-edged, canvas and overlaid with metallic and sepia-toned paint. The resulting images have an often wistful, antiquated charm, notably in works such as Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder and the softly toned Otago Harbour view, Fading Glory.