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NZPPA at Artspost

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Janet Mazenier, Mudflats, oil with mixed media and bees wax    Vicki Jones, Equality $ Equity, additive woodcut on harakeke paper Alison Murray, Via Etna, collagraph, collage T M Wootten, Without Answers, mixed media on paper Sonja Walker, Same Cup, Different Day, oil on canvas Kate Barnett, Down Pipe, oil on canvas Krismarlianti Donaldson, I Truly Love You, oil on canvas Holly Thomas, Pieces of Eight, mixed media on canvas Richard Penn, 1s & 0s 30, oil on canvas Emma Velde, Fractured, oil on canvas James S Watson, A Quite Place To Rest, drypoint intaglio    Hollie Tawhiao, Male Gaze, oil on wood board 24 carat gold leaf David Woodings, And now, in anticipation of a silver lining…  oil on linen canvas Robyn Gibson, Turning Heads, acrylic on cardboard

It was Janet Mazenier and her minimalist abstraction, 'Mudflats', that took out the painting prize. The medium itself was interesting—oil paint, mixed media and beeswax—a monoprint that evokes, for the artist, the Avon River. It uses layered muted colours, fine linear line and textural ground to represent her local environment, inspired by historic charts that documented the river's path

Hamilton Kirikiriroa

Over 60 artists
New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award

12 April - 5 May 2024

The work of 62 artists made the cut in this year’s New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award, exhibited at Artspost, Hamilton Kirikiriroa. The two judges, Kura Te Waru-Rewiri and Marian Maguire, have selected an engaging and eclectic feast of art works, with much to look at and enthuse over—touching on a broad range of styles and subjects.

Of the prints, Vicki Jones’ work, Equality & Equity, an additive woodcut on harakeke paper, addresses through abstract notation this comparatively recent but contentious dialectic, one that has caused strong political reactions in these islands. Special privileges for some and not others has become an obvious bone of contention in a nation with a problematic history, and so the artist sets up her formal / conceptual dynamic that teases out the idea. The use of minimal colour, black and red, and hard-edged forms on brown paper makes for a telling presentation.

Mark Raymers, in One for The Other, also engages with political elements. He explores ideas of home, dislocation, and the issue of identity. Born in New Zealand but raised in the USA, Raymers’ sense of home and history got lost in the transition, and this disorientation is captured well in the intaglio / dye on cotton depiction of pieces of furniture falling through space. Its delicate, perfectly rendered lines help convey the tenuous nature of things in a world of transience.

Fragility of another sort is examined by Alison Murray in her humorous work, Via Etna. It calls on a Biblical narrative to make her point. The collagraph collage references Noah’s Ark but instead of arriving safely at Mt Ararat, it finds itself at the exploding volcanoes of Mt Etna. Simple double image technique conveys the idea effectively, while Robyn Penn with Fragment 1V, is more a celebration of the fragility and transience of nature using the same method.

Of the paintings, the small, exquisite, mixed media on paper item by T M Wootten is a little gem. Without Answers, with its ragged edges, creased fabric and minimalist dark colour, easily evokes mystery and enigma.

From mystery to banality, Sonja Walker’s Same Cup Different Day, looks at the quotidian elements of life captured in her grided format of the same cup, but revealing subtle differences. These represent a succession of monotonous, pedestrian days; poignant without being sentimental.

Abstraction is alive and well in the art world here and the exhibition presents several fine examples using different modulations. Kate Barnett’s thickly layered impasto piece, Down Pipe, presents an agitated cacophony of bold thick brushstrokes, full of texture and movement. Krismarlianti Donaldson’s I Truly Love You, exhibits a similar wild and excited flurry of both brush and finger work. Spontaneous yet controlled, the lines and flat planes of bright coloured paint play off exuberantly.

A little quieter is Holly Thomas’ Pieces of Eight, that sees scribbled notations both pencil and paint in a delicate and understated portrayal of abstract signs, codes and symbols, all given space and framed in an ornate mounting that provides the perfect counterpoint.

Richard Penn’s more hard-edged, geometric work is an intricate layered construction, impressive in size with dense configurations. Titled 1s & 0s 30, its precise linear aspects act as a commentary on the relationship between the digital realm and reality. Another work that scrutinises reality is the semi abstract watercolour of Cara Fotofili. Called A little bit of the universe thinking to itself, it presents organic and amoebic-like shapes (configured via tiny dots) that speak of birth, flora and intestinal forms. Good to see this kind of subject engaged with.

Floral display is treated slightly differently by Emma Velde. Her Fractured creates a rose in abstract form, playing with subtle harmonies of pinks, creams and purple. Nature from a more philosophic perspective is seen in Sybille Schumbom’s You never step into the same river twice, quoting Heraclitus and presenting the idea abstracted within scroll format.

More grids are found in the work of Erin-Monique O’Brien’s “Untitled (2024 “job” Conversation)” where each square reveals a 3D paper abstraction. The same hard-edged treatment sees Michele Rumney’s Sound bite from constant communication depict the inter-connectiveness of the world’s parts in a visually arresting and aesthetically satisfying graphic combination of restricted colour and repetition.

But it was Janet Mazenier and her minimalist abstraction, Mudflats, that took out the painting prize. The medium itself was interesting—oil paint, mixed media and beeswax—a monoprint that evokes, for the artist, the Avon River. It uses layered muted colours, fine linear line and textural ground to represent her local environment, inspired by historic charts that documented the river’s path. The print award went to James S Watson and his A Quiet Place to Rest, a tribute to his mother.

Of the figurative works, the standout piece was David Woodings’ exquisitely rendered photorealist painting of a silverware collection viewed from above, looking down into a box. Its title, And now, in anticipation of a silver lining, is a sardonic response to current events, symbolically depicting the finest tableware dumped in a cardboard box. Woodings has in mind Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: a public discourse in the age of showbusiness, which predicted the decline of western culture in the hands of the entertainment industry.

Robyn Gibson’s notable collage of painted heads on corrugated cardboard, is called Turning Heads. The eight heads, six male and two female, cut out and attached to the gallery wall, are wonderfully stylised. They are presented as disembodied and floating, this adding to the charm and strange intensity of the work.

Finally, Holly Tawhiao crafted a thought provoking take on the subject of the “male gaze”. Combining photorealist imagery with abstracted apparel, (loosely based on Klimt’s The Kiss) she addresses, instead of an expected feminist contention, some empathy towards positive male emotion in response to the care of a child.

Overall, a show well worth a close look.

Peter Dornauf

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