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Monochromes Approximately

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Stella Brennan, Threads 1, 2024, bathing suit and bucket, metallic print on silvered paper, 660 x 850 mm Brendan Leung, Untitled 182, 2024, watercolour, gouache, gesso and linen on found MDF, 398 x 305 mm Julia Morison, O'Livia II, 1992, ink on vylene, double sided, 200 x 1500 mm Jennifer French, 'Lied' from 'dream city', 2004, archival pigment print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Paper, 685 x 967 mm (image size) Chris Corson-Scott, detail from Silverdale 1.92M...Sandringham 2.10 M (from the series 'Postcards from the Brighter Future), 2024. archival prigment print, 1050 x 3080 mm Phil Dadson, Sound/track Groundplans Series, 1986, graphite on heavyweight paper, 1800 x 2220 mm Marie Shannon, The AAchen Faxes, 2012, single channel video, duration 15.30 Marie Shannon, Two Maguettes for Gordon Walters, 1998, silver gelatin print, sepia toned, 505 x 406 mm (paper size)

'Monochrome' is an odd term on which to base a show's title, because white I see as a colour—and because if 'monochrome' is one colour, then logically white should not participate unless by itself. If it doesn't, it is a 'duochrome.'



Galia Amsell, Stella Brennan, Chris Corson-Scott, Phil Dadson, Jennifer French, Brendon Leung, Julia Morison, Kazu Nakagawa, Marie Shannon



31 May - 6 July 2024

Emphasising more a dominant tonality with very limited colour rather than strictly uniform monochromes, this fascinatingly varied show of nine artists tends to favour photography over painting. A few painted planar slabs (7) are here. One large drawing. All (apart from Brennan) in a sense being greyish and de-coloured.

Monochrome’ is an odd term on which to base a show’s title, because white I see as a colour—and because if ‘monochrome’ is one colour, then logically white should not participate unless by itself. If it doesn’t, it is a ‘duochrome.’

Enough quibbling. Let’s now look at this highly enjoyably varied show. Its highlight is Threads, a suite of ten glorious metallic photographic prints on silvered paper Stella Brennan has made from a stack of 120 year old glass plate negatives found stored in a family shed. The corroded and fractured images depict women dressed in nineteenth century attire sitting in an Auckland garden looking out over the sea towards Rangitoto Island. They were made by Brennan’s great-great aunt Louise Laurent, who was a student at the Elam School of Art in the 1890s, and are quite extraordinary.

There are many other wonderful works too.

Brendan Leung has seven moderately-sized, vertical, painted rectangular panels spread out amongst the 36 items in the show, exploring blocks of dark-toned planar colour sensitively juxtaposed with thin oblongs of contrasting hue or squares of delicate texture. The soft fields of delicately applied oil, acrylic or ink absorb all adjacent light. Some are opaque non-modulated expanses, others not. One has been ground back by sanding, revealing new organic forms hovering in front of the exposed pale undercoat like leaves eternally trapped in a turbulent breeze.

Julia Morison’s five diagrammatic drawings on large sheets of thin translucent vylene are double sided—so you see marks rendered on the back as well as front. Made in France in the early nineties, Morison contemplates a fresco discovered on the four walls of an excavated room, depicting a garden. It was painted in 39 BC for Livia, a Roman noblewoman, as a gift from her husband.

Morison’s sheets feature stamped patterns, a diagonally gridded trellis for vines, a triangular layout plan, intertwined serpent motifs, and angled lines of small trees. Created to seen on both sides simultaneously, they can be suspended from a ceiling and walked around. As currently positioned in Clark’s gallery against a wall, the background white peeking through clarifies the reversed imagery—mixing the graphics of both planes together—making the sheets even more strange and mysterious.

Two greyish photographic prints by Jennifer French from the Dream City series, examine brutalist modernist architecture with its severe geometry and overwhelming height. They feature a restrained tonality akin to that of illustrational etching, or a smudgy mid-range ambience that is slightly washed out. This delicate fading and precise cropping metaphorically hints at a disappearing social memory, ironically despite the destructive societal impact of the totalitarian governments that may have built them.

Another conspicuous highlight is the long horizontal printed band from Chris Corson-Scott, bearing two rows of coloured real estate photographs he has taken himself. Although the works’ titles emphasise their monetary value, the repeated white planed frontages, pale grey overcast skies and formal austerity generate cadences as if notes on a staved continuum. Normally Corson-Scott’s individual images are framed under glass, and suitable for prolonged concentration by themselves, but this flowing, pinned-up strip works well, forcing you to make comparisons amongst the two-storied ‘bleached out’ ‘uncolourful’ abodes.

Amongst the other works is a large graphite drawing on black paper by Phil Dadson, of two butted-together bean shapes that suggest a pair of lungs, ears, or butterfly wings. From the eighties, they could also signify the cloudlike movement of sound descending down through two parallel rooms divided by a wall.

Also included—from Marie Shannon—is a video of a set of tender texts based on long-distance faxes from Julian Dashper to her. She also includes two photographed Gordon Walters tributes, in the form of koru maquettes and a floor installation. These works all celebrating the value of love and close friendships.

John Hurrell

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