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JH

Flayed, Neatly Folded and Hung Out to Dry

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The sense of paint as substance is obvious, suspended out from the wall with all the above attendant metaphors with no stretcher in sight, a modern version of Support et Surface without the theory. They are also odd fetish objects with their high gloss finish and thick rubbery consistency. They entice in the sense they invite touching and rubbing. It is not just the brightly hued glistening surfaces you want to fondle. The folds and edges of each sheet you want to explore with your fingertips.

Auckland

Helen Calder
Polychrome

18 May - 12 June 2010

These six works by Helen Calder continue her interest in creating brightly coloured ‘skins’ of acrylic paint, draped over thin stainless steel rods which slightly bend with the weight. The paint has been poured on suspended level sheets of plastic and then peeled off like an omelette from a skillet. Each compressed  ‘flayed’ paint shape has distinctive qualities of fold or edge, along with oddly patterned fissures, cracking and torn contusions.

The supporting stainless steel rods work well, for wooden or plastic ‘rails’ would be too thick, too organic and too intrusive. The steel looks clinical and medical (perhaps to do with torture too) with the soft ‘body’ of dense spread-out pigment being invaded by the metal. The ‘rail’ is subtly creepy and well as industrial.

At one earlier stage these ‘paintings’ were on longer rods and not folded over like they are now - only slightly scrunched up. They looked like wet hides curing in the sun. Now they look like rolls of fabric, pancakes or women’s dresses (as worn, wrapped around limbs), tubular formations squashed up together. Because they are quite long they seem like part of a punk/flapper fashion show, but made of plastic.

The colours consists of what seems to me to be an ivory black, cerulean blue, Naples yellow/ochre mix, ochre/lemon yellow, red lead orange and cerulean blue/viridian green. The sense of paint as substance is obvious, suspended out from the wall with all the above attendant metaphors and no stretcher in sight, a modern version of Support et Surface without the theory. They are also odd fetish objects with their high gloss finish and thick rubbery consistency. They entice in the sense they invite touching and rubbing. It is not just the brightly hued glistening surfaces you want to fondle. The languid olds and the (occasionally) raggedy edges of each sheet you want to explore with your fingertips.

Standing back also makes them from a distance look poured, as if they are oddly viscous cousins of Morris Louis’s delicate unfurled stains. Of course they are thick and substantial but there is a directional tumbling quality - like a waterfall made of sickly pudding syrup - except these are asymmetrical. Their lopsided folds maintain the association with clothing - not just wound skirts but also hanging coats or ties. They also could be shed giant insect skins.

It is the strong colour and tactility of these works that fascinates, with their strange portability as consumer items. They are distantly related to sixties ‘painted’ process works by Lawrence Weiner (sprayed on floor for two minutes), Lynda Benglis (poured coloured latex on floor) and William Anastasi (an opened can poured down a wall), but of course also very different. They come from carefully manipulated paint (as flexible, plastic substance) used to create enticingly crafted, viewable objects - not at all process driven, mark-making actions in themselves.

John Hurrell

 

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