Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Layered ‘Abstraction’

AA
View Discussion

Sutherland's billboards indicate an interest in modernist abstraction, being a sort of visual synthesis of Gordon Walters and Lari Pittman (with their carefully positioned flattened formal elements and repeated curved motifs), but also incorporating a fifteenth century passion for symbolism sparked by an enthusiasm for the author Christine de Pisan, a very early feminist presenter of significant women from history whom she included in illuminated manuscripts.

Te Tuhi Billboards

Pakuranga

 

Ella Sutherland
Keys to The Book of the City of Ladies


6 September - 29 November 2020

Ella Sutherland is well known for her linear graphic contributions to many tabloid format artist publications, often in collaboration with colleagues like Matthew Galloway. She is not so well known for an interest in colour, tone or shape, which is why her presentation on three Te Tuhi billboards on Reeves road (and Parnell Station) is a bit of a surprise. These indicate an interest in modernist abstraction, being a sort of visual synthesis of Gordon Walters and Lari Pittman (with their carefully positioned flattened formal elements and repeated curved motifs), but also incorporating a fifteenth century passion for symbolism sparked by an enthusiasm for the author and poet Christine de Pisan, a very early feminist presenter of significant women from history whom she included in illuminated manuscripts.

De Pisan’s most renowned work is The Book of the City of Ladies, where she champions the female contribution to civic culture, ‘civic’—visually represented by blocks in a wall—being a term for co-operative human endeavour within a city. Sutherland shows a couple of large vertical keys (of her title) and an arched door with keyhole of a solidly walled medieval town. The images are heraldic, using six colours, bold simplified shape, and a flat modernist picture plane.

The keys and tall barriers clearly refer to male thwarting of women’s awareness (now seen as a global phenomenon), standing for blocked access to education, knowledge and power. Other images include cascading bending scrolls of rippling paper, open pages of a standing book, a checkboard table top, and drops of water flying off a steep roof (ignorance?). The billboards (as always) are a large size—with impact—intended to be mentally absorbed by passing drivers as well as pedestrians, although the coded political content is not self-evident.

Sutherland makes lovely graphic images, and I’m a sucker for formalist abstraction anyway; so it is a thrill to encounter her gifts on the streets. Her feminist message though—and interest in de Pisan—only becomes clear if you have access to the gallery brochure or website. Another level that comes if you are sufficiently beguiled to find out more when you get home.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Still from Kent Monkman, Casualties of Modernity, 2015, colour film, English 14 mins 20 secs courtesy of the artist.

Fabulously Entertaining (Yet Didactic) Monkman

TE TUHI CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

Pakuranga

 

International group show
A Very Different World


13 February - 9 May 2021

JH
Kāryn Taylor, Two Fold. 2021, cast acrylic. ed. of 3, 300 mm x 600 mm

Kāryn Taylor’s Cast Acrylic Light Works

SANDERSON CONTEMPORARY ART

Auckland

 

Kāryn Taylor
An Implicate Order


16 March - 18 April 2021

JH
Hiria Anderson, Reka Deals, 2021; Tasty Super Savers, 2021; Sonny’s Takeaways, 2021: three digital prints on vinyl, 3 x 2400 mm x 3000 mm. Commissioned by Te Tuhi, Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. Photo by Sam Hartnett

Roadside Kai Māori

Te Tuhi Billboards

Pakuranga

 

Hiria Anderson
Reka Deals /Tasty Super Savers / Sonny’s Takeaways


13 February 2021 - 9 May 2021

JH
Tomislav Nikolic, To Explain How it Feels, 2020 - 2021, synthetic polymer, marble dust, 22ct gold leaf on linen,  plastic gesso & wood, 192.5 x 235 x 15 cm

Inventive Nikolic

FOX JENSEN MCCRORY

Auckland

 

Tomislav Nikolic
To Explain How It Feels

 


18 March 2021 - 24 April 2021