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JH

Varga’s Painterly Cameraless Photographs

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Justine Varga, End of Violet (72Y50.5M10c), 2022,chromogenic photograph, 1599 x 1250 mm (framed) Justine Varga, Quarantine, 2020-21, chromogenic photograph, 1026 x 795 mm (framed) Justine Varga, Valencia, 2020-21m chromogenic photograph, 1587 x 1250 mm (framed) Justine Varga, End of Violet (102.5Y70M10C), 2022, chromogenic photograph, 1525 x1162 mm (framed) Justine Varga, End of Violet (170Y50.5M3c), 2022-23, chromogenic photograph, 1600 x 1250 mm (framed). Justine Varga, End of Violet (66.5Y14.5m), 2022, chromogenic photograph, 1599 x 1250 mm (framed). Installation view of Justine Varga, End of Violet, at Two Rooms Installation view of Justine Varga, End of Violet, at Two Rooms

Because of their superficial affinity to spontaneous action painting, these clever-but-puzzling constructed images tease, nudging the viewer to question conventional assumptions about exposure procedures as well as emotional correlations. They are knowing about their turbulent ‘look'—at the same time revelling in photographic sheen and bypassing fragmentation.

Auckland

 

Justine Varga
End of Violet


7 June - 13 July 2024

These six large cameraless photographs from Justine Varga are sombre and oddly frenetic, exploring some of the scratch techniques opened up by Len Lye in the 1930s with ‘direct’ films like Colour Cry, but mixed with filters which drastically reduce the intensity of light but which also can be scratched to release bursts of glowing intensity.

They are thus subdued and moody, often spiky and agitated—with an expressionist ambience—and strangely framed so that wide enclosing planes extend out to create a pronounced buffer between image and supporting gallery wall.

The matte opacity of this bizarre coloured framing creates an intriguing contrast through the glowing transparency of the contained images. It makes the drawn marks (though dark) appear to be organic, living and restless, and quite unlike the comparatively ‘moribund’ borders which seem initially motivated by a perverse contrarianism. However the delicate intricacy of the drawn wiggly linear borders enclosing (for example) the centrally-positioned sluglike shapes surprises because of the occasional presence of the already mentioned flaring slivers, that act in partnership with the glowing amorphous patches scattered flickering throughout.

Because of their superficial affinity to spontaneous action painting, these clever-but-puzzling constructed images tease, nudging the viewer to question conventional assumptions about exposure procedures as well as emotional correlations. They are knowing about their turbulent ‘look’—at the same time revelling in photographic sheen and bypassing fragmentation.

Ultimately there is something refreshing about this ‘primitive’ photography that strives for the primal, ostensibly celebrating raw emotion and bodily impact. This in spite of its technical complexity and long intermittent protracted processes. Varga has—through her pens, markers, filters, needles, fingers and saliva—intervened in a brooding materiality to create abstract results that eventually will be thrust into our faces via each image’s large (and possibly exaggerated via framing) size.

Unorthodox but effective.

John Hurrell

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