Art seen: October 15

Free Range, by Lizzie Carruthers
Free Range, by Lizzie Carruthers
‘‘Studio Gleaning’’, Hullabaloo Artists

(Hullabaloo Art Space, Cromwell)

IN their collective exhibition ‘‘Studio Gleaning’’, the Hullabaloo artists have pulled hidden gems from their home studios, bringing together works old and new in a fascinating miscellany of styles and media. Many have an enjoyable lighter note, a palpable joy, such as the animal paintings of Lizzie Carruthers, with their thick, textural paint application and quirky anthropomorphic details — a smoking panda, a sheep in his black singlet, a rooster calmly decked out in his cowboy hat. Carruthers’ work is often tongue-in-cheek, with a piquant sense of humour and a warm empathy for her furred and feathered subjects.

Gail de Jong’s Winterlight perfectly articulates the sensory experience of winter in a vast, sprawling land, as the weak sunlight struggles to cast its rays across frozen hills and deep, dark waters.

With a pared-back palette, Lorraine Higgins’ circular Central Sky is a dreamy, misty landscape. With streaks of light just breaking through encompassing cloud, the overcast sky is reflected in the calm stretch of lake below. Every brushstroke blends gently into another, creating the haziness of a memory or a view obscured by rain.

Andi Regan’s cable-tie sculptures are always ingenious, and particularly so here in the delicate loops and twists of her Corals and Pods. However, diverging from man-made materials to those of the natural world, Reclaim is equally striking. Like a timber patchwork quilt, squares of wood are coloured, carved and patterned, turning extraneous objects into something unique and beautiful.

The Lavender Garden, by Denis Kent
The Lavender Garden, by Denis Kent

‘‘A Retrospective Exhibition: 1968—2020’’, Denis Kent

(Central Stories Museum & Art Gallery)

SPANNING 52 years, the undeniable gift of painter Denis Kent is on full display at Central Stories, showcasing not only the long career of an extremely talented artist, but the history of a region. Kent frequently depicts rural scenes in Central Otago and Mt Aspiring National Park, his intricate brushstrokes and sharp eye for detail capturing the land as it was, and as it will ever be here, casting a sense of timelessness and grandeur even into the most everyday of settings.

The handling of the landscapes and the use of light is superb. The sun seems to touch every blade of grass, mist folds around trees in an atmosphere both eerie and serene, and water tumbles past rocks and ferns with a mirror-like translucency. The communication of atmosphere is one of Kent’s many strengths — in Dappled Sunlight, the figures of two hikers are mere shadows under the majesty of the tree canopy, but as they walk into an almost heavenly glow, that all-encompassing awe and immense peace to be found in the heart of the forest emanates from the canvas.

The human presence is equally poignant. With just a few strokes, Kent conveys emotion through a figure’s body language, as they kneel enthralled amidst a profusion of flowers in The Lavender Garden, or go out fishing in solitary serenity, converse in a cafe, or gather with their children to enjoy a day by the river.

As it heads into its final weekend, this delightful exhibition is an experience not to be missed.

Welcome Swallow, by Luke Anthony
Welcome Swallow, by Luke Anthony

‘‘Selected Works’’, Neville Porter, Nigel Wilson,

Luke Anthony and Richie Knight

(Eade Gallery, Clyde)

IN Clyde’s Eade Gallery, perfectly polished wood splits apart, the textural interior painted and glowing as if a force within is spilling outward. Murray Shephard’s Out of the Forest utterly transforms macrocarpa from Owaka sale yards, juxtaposing smooth surfaces against dark, jagged imagery with dramatic effect. The craftsmanship is precise and immensely skilled in even the simplest of details.

Luke Anthony’s carved kauri Welcome Swallow perches nearby, a quizzical observer. Instead of resting among leaves and branches, the bird sits atop a wreath of barbed wire, his gentle presence a striking contrast to the sharp spikes and twists of metal.

Beneath the flicks and strokes of boughs bending in the wind, the figure in Nigel Wilson’s Arrowtown River Walk heads into the dark shadows of the unknown, about to be engulfed by the trees and whatever lies beyond. Tonally perfect, the energy in the paint application works to convey a sense of both vibrancy and contemplation, as the viewer, too, is drawn into the landscape. Nearby, in Alex River Trail, the thick dabs of paint cast autumnal gold across the cold depths of the river.

From the trees to the mountains, Neville Porter’s gorgeous photography is at its best in Musterers Window. The viewer is situated within the darkness of a weathered dwelling, gazing through the window into the crisp grey light of wintery fields. In the distance, the mountains rise into the gathering clouds, and a path into the horizon beckons, the temptation of a journey beyond that glass pane.

Laura Elliott

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