Posts Tagged ‘Culbert’

Ok, ok ‘love’ might be an exaggeration but the hype surrounding the hosting of the RWC here in New Zealand has brought some good things about. A friend did say that it’s a pity that it takes a sporting event to bring out the good art but hey, why look a gift horse in the mouth eh?

Firstly, and maybe just a coincidence, but the refurbished Auckland Art Gallery has just opened in time for the cup crowds. Apparently it’s a stunner .

In Wellington there is a collaborative exhibition Oceania between the City Gallery and Te Papa. Some of the best of NZ art will be on show. I’d give A LOT  to get to this exhibition – if you can SEE IT!

In my area the Dunedin Public Art Gallery has Fiona Pardington’s The Pressure of Sunlight Falling exhibtion and also the wonderful Hotere/Culbert work Pathway to the Sea – Aramoana on show.

Ralph Hotere and Bill Culbert
Pathway to the Sea – Aramoana 1991(detail)
paua shells, rocks, flourecent tubes.
Collection Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

I think its good that these shows provide some thought-provoking material rather than the postcard tourist variety. None more so (I think) than another local exhibition – Rachael Rakena’ 3D video work Haka Peepshow situated in Dunedin’s Octagon.

“Kaupapa:- Haka Peepshow is a celebration of the diversity of contemporary haka in Maori and broader New Zealand culture. In an era, when the haka is frequently a commercial branding device, this coin-operated peepshow invites viewers to take a fresh look at the haka and to consider it in the broader context of the sexualisation and commodification of Maori sportsmen and the representation of their masculinity and culture in the media.”

OK – it’s taken rugby to get all this art out there but I hope visitors and locals alike take something deeper away from it.

NOTE: Sadly, the Christchurch Art Gallery remains closed but their blog, ‘Bunker Notes’ is very active and always worth reading.

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I have given up on the “What is Art?” question because I’ve decided it just is – or as the masthead of Over the Net blog says “Art – Reality caught unawares“.

However this leaves me with another conundrum. Why is the artworld, or more to the point, why are some people in the artworld so snarky?* It doesn’t seem to be any one group, although perhaps some are more vocal than others. The contemporary art people sneer at painters and people who like paintings, the painting people sneer at the conceptual ones and on it goes. I don’t get it, although I suspect it has to do with fashion and maybe money and of course some people are just snarky.

I just figure you like what you like. For example I have a confessed passion for 1970’s NZ painting (and also a very soft spot for McCahon) but I also have an appreciation for some more contemporary/conceptual stuff and performance works. I am a bit of an art magpie, and I have no expectation that anyone shares my taste or even understands it. I do hope that other people would extend the same courtesy.

This also goes for my often wild ideas on art theory. I love debate and am open-minded enough to want to hear many sides to a story or idea. I like it when people point things out to me and educate me here in comments or personal emails. Artbash can be pretty helpful like that too. Of course I get criticism for being so New Zealand-centric, but there is so much to know and a geographical focus probably isn’t that bad as a starting point. I figure all those old 1970/80s “Don’t leave town ’til you’ve seen the country” ads have had a lasting impact on me, same goes for literature, musicwine and food (oohh that little linky list might be telling). I hope it doesn’t all sound too defensive.

And so to some art I am liking right now. Bill Culbert and Ralph Hotere “Pathway to the Sea– Aramoana” (1991) – the lithographs currently on show at Te Papa, but also the installation (below).

* This is obviously a generalisation. Mostly the people I have met have been very pleasant (to my face).

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Firstly, I have to report back on the subject of “Crowd Pleasers” posted on Over the Net a while back. They write: “In New Zealand it’s hard to think of any major crowd pleasers…You’d think Rita Angus’s Cass would be a contender, but it has always been crowd-free when we’ve been around.” Well not today! A cloudy Wellington Sunday afternoon and the final day of the Rita Angus retrospective at Te Papa – you could hardly move in the place. At first I thought only one person was stationed in front of “Cass”, but then from behind me I heard “there it is” and a gaggle of middle aged women charged towards it.

Cass – from Ministry for Culture and Heritage social club cake decorating competition

I did a VERY quick run through because the crowd inside Rita’s imagination was a bit much for me today. Oddly the ‘seasick green’ room was quite soothing because there were very few people in there, so I had a sit down and flick through the catalogue. I hope my library copy arrives soon, because I want to have a good read of the essays which looked rather interesting. As an aside, my library came through with Sam Hunt’s new book “Doubtless” last week and it’s great – as good and better than “Talking  of the Weather” plus older works. I have added this book to my ‘have to own’ list.

Upstairs there were some different things on show in Toi Te Papa, and I agree with Best of 3 that “there is a frigging spectacular Driver in the hang – the appropriately named Big Relief (1980).”  that is a railway tarp – isn’t it? Several other things took my eye though including Don Peebles Wellington series (No. 16/60) . A little sad that the McCahon/Shadbolt kitchen bench was gone, but hey I can always look at it online. Oddly the Fomison looked like it was about to fall apart and I kept finding Mark Adams photos throughout the museum!

Te Papa always strikes me as noisy for a museum but my kids love it and they were entertained for hours today. We also had fun lying in the centre of the Hotere/Culbert “Void” which was about as close as they got to the art – “oh not the gallery mum…” Although Inspiration Station, their favourite place, has a new artwork (replacing the Frizzell chicken), the vaguely disturbing Send off by Tony de Lautour.

Having just re-read Rachel King’s “The Sound of Butterflies” it would have been nice to see more Lepidoptera, but maybe another day…

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