John Hurrell – 7 September, 2020
The salient displays here are drawings of pen and ink on paper (sometimes with weather-map collage) and a large installation of thirty suspended dried tree roots and branches—collected as driftwood from Motutapu Island—that Dadson has added painted acrylic bands to. It is a linear (but walk through) 'drawing' in itself—a real treat.
8 August - 3 October 2020
Although there are two superb Phil Dadson videos in this exhibition of pock-marked gnarled rock formations and inverted coastal skylines, the salient displays are drawings of pen and ink on paper (sometimes with weather-map collage) and a large installation of thirty suspended dried tree roots and branches—collected as driftwood from Motutapu Island—that the artist has added painted acrylic bands to. It is a linear (but walk through) ‘drawing’ in itself—a real treat.
In the main gallery these suspended root ‘marks’ (June Music) are accompanied on the walls by ten sheets of ink drawings: three roots rendered in each, and small meteorological charts for the day of discovery included. As arcing bits of ‘expressive’ wood, the twisted and ‘misshapen’ forms have colour added to provide a rhythmical ‘sonic’ rippling effect as your eye moves along the branch. Air currents cause them to slightly swivel in space so that the immersive ‘drawing’ (surrounded by white walls) is constantly and subtly changing.
The branches (with their different spacings of colour, and choice of harmonious hues) can also be seen as musical scores where melodies and rhythms are directed. Or they could be instruments to be hit in themselves, as percussive objects.
As well, each branch could be mistaken for the contours of a piece of coastline. Dadson reveals a strange wit in using driftwood in such a fashion, as if its morphological detail is connected to its earthy and watery origins; a mysterious suggestion that links each bowed wooden line to the April Music video of coastal reflections.
In a smaller room there are also sheets of fuzzy watercolour and ink wash paintings (Littoral Zone) of hot saturated colour that incorporate burn and smoke marks, referencing beach sands, water, and sky. Being atmospheric and planar, to me they lack the drama or energy of the linear depictions. Maybe it is the scale. Nearby is a related suite of works based on Rangitoto Island, rich in its allusion to crater forms.
In the back room is also a larger glorious pen and ink Sound Map Drawing of overlapping, concentric, rippling configurations that surprises with its fine delicacy, nuanced colour and pervading topological complexity. It eloquently suggests the air is thick with the vibrations of sonic frequencies, a fragile screen of pulsing weblike forms that here in the gallery we optically ‘walk’ through.
This is a great show to check out if you like thinking about drawing, and its adventurous possibilities. It’s unusual and quite wonderful.