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JH

Langdon-Pole at Lett

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The biggest surprises are the drapes (curtains and throws) that over the course of time have been bleached of colour by sunlight, found and then placed on stretchers. With their ghostly traces and dramatic blurs they look amazingly like large primitive photographs found on a darkroom floor, but made of embossed, texturally patterned fabric.

Auckland

 

Zac Langdon-Pole
Pale Ideas

 

29 May - 3 August 2013

This, the third Zac Langdon-Pole show at Michael Lett, continues the interests developed in the second where abandoned oil paintings purchased in second-hand shops had their canvases reversed exposing their delicately stained backs, and large scraps of dress fabric were stitched together to be presented taut on stretchers.

This presentation is ongoing out the back, in the small gallery between Lett’s office and his library / storage area. The largest work is a stitched ‘collage’ on a stretcher of many pale light textiles of different sizes and shapes, with the machine stitched seams deliberately extending towards the viewer like feathery ridges. These works, though made with a very different system (no screenprinting, photography or glue), ostensibly have a Rauschenberg feel. Their faded, washed out colours and unexpected textural juxtapositions provide small islands of patterned detail and thread lines you can zero in on and analyse.

The biggest surprises are the drapes (curtains and throws) that over the course of time have been bleached of colour by sunlight, found and then placed on stretchers. With their ghostly traces and dramatic blurs they look amazingly like large primitive photographs found on a darkroom floor, but made of embossed, texturally patterned fabric. Their scale and at times sumptuous colour make them very distinctive as a form of readymade, and Langdon-Pole’s acumen in finding them reminds me of other artists such as Pip Culbert with her interest in cut-around seams as a sort of found drawing.

Here Langdon-Pole’s variety of ‘painting’ (technically they seem like a form of photograph where light over a long period subtracts tone) is fascinating: some like No Title (Beige) are subtle, others like Blue Scene very dramatic. One made from a curtain, the other from a throw left for years on a couch by a window.

The other sort of work the artist presents has no connection with fabric or light at all, being only curling and brittle autumn leaves. These he has sorted into types and then pairs, and in the main gallery and in the back office meticulously arranged them in casual (but identical) formations on the floor.

What I like about this work is that it is based on looking and thinking about what is before you, once you are placed within its contextual frame. What I don’t like is how you get in that frame, that it is too based on language and a transmitted conceptual key, without any room for the viewer to stumble on and discover things for themselves. If you were not told about it you would never ever be aware of it. It is far too subtle, well beyond the threshold of normal cognition, because this time of year dried leaves getting inside buildings are commonplace. The wall stretcher works you could discover by chance and then figure out Langdon-Pole’s process. Not these.

John Hurrell

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James R Ford, 8:06 p.m. 22 July, 2013

The leaves remind me of "Untitled," by Tom Friedman, two piles of pick-up sticks, one strewn on the floor, the other laid down carefully to duplicate the first pile, 1990

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