Posts Tagged ‘Dashper’

A Kind of Blue

I have thought long and hard before writing a post about this exhibition (Kind of Blue: new acquisitions and loans). You see I don’t ‘get’ art sometimes, or don’t get the nuances anyway and this exhibition has me stumped even though I have visited three times.

The DPAG spiel on this exhibition says “Over recent years the Dunedin Public Art Gallery has been strategically collecting, through acquisition as well as loans, a number of significant artworks by a range of contemporary artists from New Zealand and overseas. Kind of Blue provides an opportunity for a select group of these stunning photographs, sculptures and paintings by a range of emerging and established artists to be exhibited together for the first time.

This small selection (only 19 works) appears to be made up from the gallery’s collection and the Barr loan collection. I was very keenly looking forward to it after my contemporary art revelation of 2008 at Reboot at the City Gallery, Wellington. It was a mixed bag and I was a bit confused by the labelling/layout in the catalogue (no labelling in the actual gallery). Like I said though, I don’t ‘get’ things sometimes. I very much like Ben Cauchi’s photos and it was interesting to see  Yvonne Todd’s Founding CEO, 2008 which I thought might have been from the Wall of Man series but is dated earlier. A touch of lightness (but yet…not) was found in Campbell Patterson’s Lifting my mother for as long as I can series. The highlight for me was seeing in person the Peter Robinson polystyrene works. I have seen lots of photos online but to see them in person was amazing. Measure of disorder with its delicate chain links was wonderful, but oddly rearranged the second time I visited – although for the better.

At the floor talk I attended for reboot, Jim Barr talked a bit about Martin Creed’s work 88 so I was excited to see that too. Visit one – couldn’t find it and dumb old me couldn’t work out the blurry photo where I expected the Creed work to be (it turns out the photo was part of  Roman Signer’s Fireman’s glove with photograph). On my second visit, I damn near stepped on  Work 88: A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball as it sat on the floor, albeit with a large DO NOT REMOVE sign beside it. Today, the ball of paper was there, with no sign. I am very suspicious though, as it looked nothing like the ball of paper from last week. Yeah ok I am nit-picking, but I found it disturbing.

 Work No. 88: A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball
1995 – 2008, Paper, Approx. 5 cm diam
Unlimited edition
(Image from Martin Creed website)

For me , the catalogue hits the nail on the head with “it is difficult to discern what they [the artists] represent or are contemplating as a group“. I liked individual works, but as a group “they are only remarkable for their aloofness“.

The catalogue also says “there is a distinct coolness to the works” and I am thinking perhaps they were going for a gloomy atmosphere as they say the works address “aspects of absence, melancholy, loss“.  The show is dedicated to artist Julian Daspher who died in July 2009, so I guess that is fitting.

My plan is to go to the floortalk with Jim Barr and Mary Barr on 11th October (3pm) in hope of further clarification.

A Kind of Blue at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery runs from 29 August to 6 December 2009.

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With all the news about the government buying back the trains it has brought back a lot of memories of my train hopping days including middle of the night awakenings on a freezing train at National Park as passengers boarded. But its made me think how quickly things have changed. Its within my memory that long journeys were undertaken by train rather than plane or car.  I am all for the government buy-back, except the food on the ferries did improve with the company in private hands.

So it brought me to two paintings of train stations. I have no doubt there is more and probably quite well known rail associated art but these two leap to mind. Firstly, of course Angus’ Cass. There are several interesting points about this, one being that it has been reinterpreted or re-viewed by several other NZ artists including Dane Mitchell (a rubbing of the sign?) and in photography by Peter Peryer. Here is another example.

Cass8/10 (1986) Julian Dashper

Also some time back it was voted New Zealand’s Greatest Painting. I don’t agree, however I wouldn’t know even where to start with what is the greatest.

The other painting is very similar in that it depicts a small rural station. It also brings to mind my Grandfathers’ Tokanui run and the Frames at Glenham. The railway is obviously entwined with our literature as well. In fact last year I visited the lonely little station at Seacliff so poignantly described in many books by Janet Frame. Anyway back to the painting – Wedderburn by Grahame Sydney. This is a photo of the building which has been put back (re-relocated?) where it used to be on the (now) Central Otago rail trail.

All the political angst (including the trains) because its election year is getting to me. I am watching the Charles Bukowski documentary just now “Born Into This” and I found this from “Dinosauria, We”. Kinda says it all… (Bukowski was a postman for a while too by the way)

“We are
Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes”

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