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Bambury Show at Clark

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Stephen Bambury, Twenty Thirty (IX) (Night/Day) 2023. Lacquer & chemical action on two copper panels on ply, 170 x 340 mm Stephen Bambury, Twenty Thirty (XI) 2023. Lacquer & chemical action on two copper panels on ply, 170 x 340 mm Installation view of most of the Sight Line series. Each resin on aluminium panels on signply. 170 x 445 mm Stephen Bambury, Sight Line (XXXI) 2024. Chemical action and acrylic on four copper panels and aluminium extrusion, 183 x 360 mm Detail from Stephen Bambury's World Still Turning (a work in seven parts) (1/3) 2008/2022. Seven framed inkjet prints on Hahnemuhle 300gsm photorag paper. 840 x 7968 mm Stephen Bambury, The Turning of the Bones, 2019. Acrylic and 24k gold leaf on three aluminium panels on plywood. 170 x 255 mm Installation of Stephen Bambury's Kaipara (NC) 2024. Chemical action and acrylic on two aluminium panels. 1670 x 900 mm. Installation of Stephen Bambury's Paradox of Knowledge (Purpleheart) 2022. Turned purpleheart wood and 23k gold. 150 x 150 mm

Bambury's compositions readily reference high art (eg. McCahon, Malevich) while their titles occasionally allude to rock music (Waits, Young) in an unexpected synthesis. Rigorous formalism sometimes mingles with spiritual and planetary eco-conscious symbolism. Crosses abound, as do polygons doubling as houses, and golden orbs doubling as planet earths.

Auckland

 

Stephen Bambury
Slow Burn (Redux)


20 March - 18 May 2024

In this exceptionally elegant, sparse hang—with its very precise positioning of 27 multi-panelled paintings and large prints—Stephen Bambury presents four different series groups, mixed with ten assorted but related individual solo works. The three dominant series of small paintings are Neutrum, Sight Line and Twenty Thirty, while the inkjet suite (in seven sequential parts) is called World Still Turning.

Bambury’s compositions readily reference high art (eg. McCahon, Malevich) while their titles occasionally allude to rock music (Waits, Young) in an unexpected synthesis. Rigorous formalism sometimes mingles with spiritual and planetary eco-conscious symbolism. Crosses abound, as do polygons doubling as houses, and golden orbs doubling as planet earths.

The World Still Turning prints present seven black house silhouettes placed on a violently hot saturated orange that bleeds into a pale yellow and then white, ominously suggesting enveloping flames. The “turning” of the title references not a spinning globe but the rotating position of the flames (within the frame) in relation to the central black building, nodding to diminishing time and cumulatively destroyed natural resources.

Bambury has been making small paired-up cross paintings for decades now, and one would have expected him to run out of gas long ago. This particular show though—via these works—shows him at his best, as he continues his exploration of different oxidisation processes on copper, brass, steel, aluminium or zinc metal plates, tucked inside the overlapping vertical and horizontal rectangles of cruciform forms on the front, and behind backed with reinforcing squares of plywood.

Twenty Thirty is an especially intriguing series with vertical brusherly marks as well as multi-directional fluid textures. Within the contained intersecting juxtaposed paired images, sumptuous marbled streaks emerge swirling from burst oval ‘membranes’ that jostle restlessly against the stabilising monochromatic (tonally lighter) corner squares.

Other works are based on overlapping metal rectangles with skinny inserted painted bars, gorgeous delicately agitated surfaces, and resting on thin stridently coloured shelves. Many of the Sight Line series, with its panels of yellowy green resin on mostly paired aluminium panels, evocatively reference blurry landscapes and wet weather. There is also a plain metal box containing a solid book made by Leigh Davis and Christine Hanson, projecting at a right-angle out from the wall like a mysteriously unfunctional high thin beam.

This is an excellent, highly nuanced exhibition, where each work needs time to be examined closely from different angles. The effort of euch enthusiastic scrutiny really pays off.

John Hurrell

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