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Art New Zealand

Art New Zealand Spring 2018

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New Zealand’s most respected and widely-read visual arts magazine, Art New Zealand presents an independent quarterly round-up of the visual arts in New Zealand, by the country’s best art writers.

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New Zealand
Art New Zealand 2009 Ltd
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6 мин.
milan mrkusich (1925–2018)

Twenty years ago I wrote a letter to Milan Mrkusich in which I described the surfaces of his paintings as ‘visually beguiling’, and asked whether the intention was ‘to elicit visual or sensory pleasure’. Mrkusich’s reply floored me: ‘Beguiling is your word and the intention you surmise follows the dictionary meaning.’ I thought he was being testy and pedantic. In retrospect, his letter speaks of someone who believed in getting things right. Absolutely squarely right. The specific qualities of Mrkusich’s letter are a statement in themselves: pale grey paper, dark grey lower case ‘milan mrkusich’ letterhead, carefully typewritten text, my questions numbered and cited at the left margin, each brusque response (none longer than three sentences) indented, titles of paintings and key phrases underlined. My choice of the word ‘beguiling’…

20 мин.

Auckland Aide Harvey -M é Benge moire and Other Stories Northart, 3 June–20 JulyNINA SEJA I encountered Harvey Benge’s photographs in my pre-Y2K youth. Four Parts Religion, Six Parts Sin—a photobook, a form extensively used by Benge—appealed to my worldview of the unexpected, the quirky, the witty. His images showed the grungy side of street life. There are some photographers who have such a decided style that even without a wall label you know it is unmistakably them. A tone, a colour palette, stock or setting—their imprint is distinct. However, it is unusual to have the landscape seem to remake itself as if conforming to the photographer’s vision. Since that early encounter with Benge’s work, I have found myself meandering through an urban landscape and a random item or person makes me think, ‘there’s…

9 мин.
concerning jewellery

Dear Chicks on Speed, Dear Lisa Walker, Thank you for carrying the torch, the tradition needs new subversive art, action, poems, music. Love and respect, Francis Picabia So reads a forged dedication printed in the zine Touch Me Baby, I’m Bodycentric, a Multimodelplosion that accompanied the exhibition of the same name at Wellington’s City Gallery in 2013. This summoning of the spirit of Dada—with its challenges to taste, complacency and the demand for an imaginative, vigorous intersection of artistic practice with social and political life—makes immediate sense for any visitor to one of Lisa Walker’s recent exhibitions. Explosions of colour, texture, and vibrant collisions of all manner of worldly objects, can be found running fast and loose in a nonstop-punk-crescendo, as the otherwise familiar world of things is put through its paces, under…

14 мин.
a manner of speaking

Wait! Let us pause for a moment, right here, at the start. It is a kind of threshold. Drawing attention to the beginning of this text seems fitting because Sriwhana Spong creates artworks that constantly yet subtly signal threshold spaces. She has manifested door jambs, flimsy curtains, provisional screens, scenic backdrops, empty theatres, small sets of steps, shorelines and beaches. Such inside-outside, in-between spaces confuse orientation, they complicate oppositions and make location less straightforward. Indeed, for the past five years Spong has been particularly itinerant, yet for me, personally, her practice has always seemed to operate within a nomadic, dreamy and indeterminate space, one that confuses time zones as well as art-historical periods, past events, prior actions and near-forgotten stories. More concretely, it is following a period of two months spent…

12 мин.
caution: artist at play

In 1942, for the vernissage of First Papers of Surrealism in New York, Marcel Duchamp installed his Sixteen Miles of String. Stretching between ceiling, floor and walls, Duchamp’s intricate web complicated attendees’ ability to view the other works in the exhibition; they were further hindered by groups of children throwing balls and playing hopscotch and skipping games. In 1998 Maureen Lander’s String Games, commissioned for the launch of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, referenced both traditional Maori string games or whai and Duchamp’s provocative opening gambit. Suspended at the centre of her twine, light and video installation was a glow-green replica of an item from Te Papa’s collection: Duchamp’s Boîte-en-valise. Twenty years later Michael Parekowhai picks up the baton. Duchamp has been a key figure in Parekowhai’s thinking since…

10 мин.
surface exploration

The painter sits to one side of the image. At the other side, two paintings are stacked against and facing the wall—just one stretcher bar of the foremost painting is visible where the canvas is stapled to the back, and part of the cross-brace; the same section of the other painting protrudes from behind it, but wrapped. Milan Mrkusich was, as obituaries have emphasised, a private person. Adrienne Martyn’s portrait photograph, commissioned in 1987 by the then National Gallery along with portraits of other New Zealand artists, does not breach but rather projects privacy. Mrkusich’s arms are folded in a way that at first seems typical but then seems more arranged; they are not folded sternly in front of his torso, but languidly across the thighs. His face bears no…