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In this week's Art Seen, James Dignan looks at exhibitions from Wayne Seyb, Arapeta Ashton and Indigo.
''Nine Crosses in a Landscape'', Wayne Seyb (Pea Sea Art, Port Chalmers)
Wayne Seyb's return to exhibiting around Dunedin is welcome and long overdue. The twin threads of landscape and rock music run through the painter's art, and as such it is fitting that his ''Nine Crosses in a Landscape'' should be displayed at a gallery run by local musician and landscape artist, Robert Scott.
Seyb's work is bold and expressionistic, using violent slashes of rich colour to depict his themes. The images, which show traces of fauvism and also the influence of local heroes such as Woollaston and Clairmont, depict Otago in primal, primary colours and heady impasto. In paintings such as From Church Road, The Kilmog and Hook Beach Road, North Otago the landscape is implied rather than depicted, with thick, confident brush strokes. The style is most effective on rugged scenes such as Huriawa and the fiery View of Karitane, as well as on the impressive Otago Peninsula.
This vibrant style is put to great use in a series of works of musicians in action, in which David Byrne, Straitjacket Fits, and - perhaps most effectively - Patti Smith are depicted in full musical flow. The dynamism of Seyb's paint perfectly suits the energy and movement of the well-performed rock gig, making these three works powerful pieces.
''Ha'', Arapeta Ashton (Blue Oyster Art Project Space)
Arapeta Ashton's exhibition at Blue Oyster celebrates process, and in doing so celebrates his whakapapa and connection to the community.
Through the presentation of completed traditional Maori clothing and fabrics, kakahu, and the pairing alongside these items of the living plants which go into the creation of the clothes, Ashton is attempting to make apparent the transition from natural form to crafted item, and in doing so is attempting to draw across some of the mana and mauri from the living kiekie to the completed parakiekie capes as if by osmosis.
The process almost becomes a multilingual pun: just as the classical prefix ''para-'' produces words in English to indicate something alongside or an extension (as in parallel or paramedic), so parakiekie is presented as an extension of the kiekie.
''Ha'' (breath), continues the concept of transference of life or mana. In a video presented in Blue Oyster's back room, we see the artist preparing the plant by washing it in his awa, the Wairere, imbuing it with a personal weight. This personal connection passes through to the finished material which in turn passes to the wearer. The act is a symbol of connectedness and kinship with the community (whakawhaungatanga) in much the same way as the literal and physical transference of breath in the act of hongi.
''Indigo Group Show'' (Gallery on Blueskin, Waitati)
Indigo is a nomadic group of artists hailing from Central Otago.
Previously members of the Hullabaloo group based in Cromwell, the nine artists have taken the unusual step of not basing themselves in any particular location, but instead plan on creating exhibitions in different towns throughout the country, and inviting a local guest artist to join them for each show.
Their display at Waitati is the third of these exhibitions (and the first outside Central Otago), and they have been joined by Waitati's Eliza Glyn.
The works are an interesting and eclectic mix. Rachel Hirabayashi and Nigel Wilson have produced strong landscape paintings, and the more stylised painted landforms of Jillian Porteous are well complemented by work from Glyn.
A darker edge is added to the show by the ethereal cyanotypes of Annemarie Hope-Cross and by Judy Cockeram's enigmatic sketches.
A series of finely crafted ceramics by Lynne Wilson are also presented displaying a nice use of crackled glaze. Centre stage in the three-dimensional works should probably, however, go to two startling but lovely sculptures of fantails by Luke Anthony.
The exhibition is completed by a large, bold, and somewhat forbidding abstract by Shaun Burdon, and a series of painted cameos by Megan Huffadine.