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JH

John Ward Knox’s Ocular Challenge

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Installation of John Ward Knox's exhibition 'Old Words' at Ivan Anthony. Installation of John Ward Knox's exhibition 'Old Words' at Ivan Anthony. Installation of John Ward Knox's exhibition 'Old Words' at Ivan Anthony. John Ward Knox, No title (i), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm John Ward Knox, No title (ii), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm John Ward Knox, No title (iii), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm John Ward Knox, No title (iv), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm John Ward Knox, No title (v), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm John Ward Knox, No title (vi), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm John Ward Knox, No title (vii), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm John Ward Knox, No title (viii), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm John Ward Knox, No title (ix), 2022, oil and calico and silk, 500 x 500 mm

They seem to be situated halfway between Megan Jenkinson's lenticular photographs and the disturbing ambiguous collages of John Stezaker. Vaguely cinematic in the nature of their strange morphing, they transmute to a third semi-realist entity, mixing and mangling the disparate front and back images, and accentuating hand positions, eyes and vocally active mouths. This hovers in abeyance unresolved, rich in incompatible ghostly traces.

Auckland

 

John Ward Knox
Old Words


10 September - 5 October 2022

The nine new works from John Ward Knox presented here each utilise two stretchers, one image painted with black oil paint on sheer silk placed in front of another image painted on heavier calico. The images of gesturing and speaking people are realistic, like black and white photographs, but become a form of double exposure which changes, dissolves and subtly re-forms as you move from side to side.

They seem to be situated halfway between Megan Jenkinson’s lenticular photographs and the disturbing ambiguous collages of John Stezaker. Vaguely cinematic in the nature of their strange morphing, they transmute into a third entity of semi-realism, mixing and mangling the very disparate front and back images, and accentuating hand positions, eyes and vocally active mouths.

This hovers in abeyance unresolved, rich in incompatible ghostly traces. Mixed in is also a hint of the anamorphic, implying that the correct viewer position will bring about a resolution where the more delicate front screen becomes clear as if in isolation—but such a position seems impossible. The calico image is too overpowering.

This optical clashing—the incommensurability of two blurred (spliced together) pedagogical images that originally present acts of earnest communication—results in a viscerality, a swinging lurching movement that (via our eyeballs) alludes perhaps to memory briefly held during the act of looking. Retinal and mental pictures functioning simultaneously.

For all their eccentricity and inventive manipulation of the viewer, these teasing artworks are highly compelling. As we peer through the fine gauze, we seem to gaze across the swirling vortices of the unconscious mind, the faint in-between zones of partial connections—where within these dated scrambled teaching aids, blurry edges erotically overlap and contrasting shapes semiotically compete. The result is inevitably amusing, for this enigmatic highly tactile blending promises what it cannot deliver, the only outcome being an insistent blocking separation. A rushed floundering voyeurism that is always thwarted.

John Hurrell

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