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

JH

Watkins Overhead

AA
View Discussion
Installation view of Denys Watkins' exhibition IDLE MOMENTS at Ivan Anthony. Denys Watkins, Life on Mars, 2023, acrylic on linen, 1200 x 1500 mm Denys Watkins, Birth of Venus, 2023, acrylic on linen, 510 x 610 mm Denys Watkins, Pyrolle Orange Signal, 2023, acrylic on linen, 1200 x 1500 mm Denys Watkins, Passport to an Empire, 2023, acrylic on linen, 600 x 600 mm Denys Watkins, The Pond and Nightflies, 2023, acrylic on linen, 400 x 400 mm Denys Watkins, Quiet Village, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 300 x 300 mm Denys Watkins, The New Frontier, 2023, acrylic on linen, 600 x 600 mm Installation view of Denys Watkins' exhibition IDLE MOMENTS at Ivan Anthony.

'Birth of Venus' seems to be a joke about the planet, not Botticelli, with a dynamic of irregular tensions of the four corners, circles in the centre, and the main dark circular motif disrupted by horizontal and vertical pipe forms of differing thicknesses. In contrast the larger 'Life on Mars' has fat finger and planet forms, the former squeezing the latter, with assorted cocks, leaning towers, and chimneys, all flat and compositionally structured like a tablecloth, or slighterly higher to show folded table legs.

Auckland

 

Denys Watkins
IDLE MOMENTS

 


3 August - 2 September 2023

In the Ivan Anthony exhibition space furthest away from the street-entrance, Denys Watkins presents seven variously-sized paintings. Of these geometry-loaded canvases, curiously many—besides being compositionally striking with clear flat simple shapes, and symmetry—are also subtly viscerally unsettling.

This is because of their affinity to aerial views from high up—looking down from a studio ceiling examining objects on the floor, or outside hovering over architecture. It is as if Watkins were like Kazimir Malevich, who became terribly excited when he discovered aerial photography (via works by photographers like Moholy-Nagy, Rodchenko and Kertész [using towers, balloons and later aeroplanes], and possibly from the previous century, Nadar, Coburn, and Lindahl) and—noticing the disappearance of the horizon and elongation of shadows from buildings and trees—experienced a spatial revelation about feeling and non-objectivity.

Some of the painted flat geometric forms overlap, others float in isolation. A few are aligned vertically; or occasionally diagonally. Now and then small colourful units are repeated in groups, to be scattered like chaff in the wind.

Another salient quality in this show is Watkins‘ interest in symmetry and pattern, for some of his larger compositions are like spread-out tablecloths—but where the systematic outer edges of the rectangle are foils for the more unpredictably positioned (and scaled) inner elements. Life on Mars and the smaller Birth of Venus are good examples of this.

Birth of Venus seems to be a joke about the planet, not Botticelli, with a dynamic of irregular tensions of the four corners, circles in the centre, and the main dark circular motif disrupted by horizontal and vertical pipe forms of differing thicknesses. In contrast the larger Life on Mars has fat finger and planet forms, the former squeezing the latter, with assorted cocks, leaning towers, and chimneys, all flat and compositionally structured like a tablecloth, or slightly raised to reveal folded table legs.

Of the smaller square works, Passport to an Empire plays off smoky grey black blobs, a charcoal horizontal bar, and buff circles within a tilted chocolate rectangle that teeters over descending watery and saturated oranges, and woven latticed ovals. Quiet Village again specialises in deeply sensuous chocolate and pale orange washes but with wide slabs of blue and vertical ‘hyphens’ of green, while The Pond and Nightflies has linear walls peering down on a pond of wiggling green parallel-lined wrapping paper, and lots of hovering oscillating glowing rings.

The Watkins works I have just discussed are more compact than the other canvases in the show that have less compression, fewer regular rhythms and a lot more airy (sometimes filmy) space. More minimal with less ingredients, their compositional layout is more pronounced, placement being emphatic.

All along, looking down, these works provide the viewer with a vaguely hovering, outer-body experience: head versus stomach. Oddly intestinal, they paradoxically make you aware of your own churning visceral vulnerability; while also analytic, cognitive and cerebral.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH

‘Take What You Have Gathered From Coincidence.’

GUS FISHER GALLERY

Auckland

 

Eight New Zealand artists and five Finnish ones


Eight Thousand Layers of Moments


15 March 2024 - 11 May 2024

 

JH
Patrick Pound, Looking up, Looking Down, 2023, found photographs on swing files, 3100 x 1030 mm in 14 parts (490 x 400 mm each)

Uplifted or Down-Lowered Eyes

MELANIE ROGER GALLERY

Auckland


Patrick Pound
Just Looking


3 April 2024 - 20 April 2024

JH
Installation view of Richard Reddaway/Grant Takle/Terry Urbahn's New Cuts Old Music installation at Te Uru, top floor. Photo: Terry Urbahn

Collaborative Reddaway / Takle / Urbahn Installation

TE URU WAITAKERE CONTEMPORARY GALLERY

Titirangi

 


Richard Reddaway, Grant Takle and Terry Urbahn
New Cuts Old Music

 


23 March - 26 May 2024

JH
Detail of the installation of Lauren Winstone's Silt series that is part of Things the Body Wants to Tell Us at Two Rooms.

Winstone’s Delicately Coloured Table Sculptures

TWO ROOMS

Auckland

 

Lauren Winstone
Things the Body Wants to Tell Us

 


15 March 2024 - 27 April 2024