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Unusual Pairing at Miles

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Adrienne Vaughan, Monith, 2011, oil and enamel on canvas, 505 x 605 mm Adrienne Vaughan, Ovarus, 2011, oil and enamel on canvas, 505 x 605 mm Adrienne Vaughan, Plyx, 2011, oil and enamel on canvas, 505 x 605 mm Adrienne Vaughan, Ruz, 2011, oil and enamel on canvas, 605 x 505 mm Emily Hobson-Ritchie, Untitled 1, 2012, oil on board, 195 x 275 mm Emily Hobson-Ritchie, Untitled 3, 2012, oil on board, 195 x 275 mm Emily Hobson-Ritchie, Untitled 1 - 4, 2012

Something about Vaughan's compressed tweedy textures hints of a certain Edwardian masculinity, suggesting grandad's old grey winter coat. There is a fineness in the packed arrays of small marks and faint washes where nothing is slick - only slightly rough. The imperfect shapes floating close to the viewer have an appealing coarseness as if hacked out, not painted, while the distant cloudy skies puff along with streaky blushes of pink and wispy grey.

Auckland

 

Adrienne Vaughan / Emily Hobson-Ritchie

 

7 March - 5 April 2012

These two painting shows are very different. One by Emily Hobson-Ritchie features small panels of sexless grey androids intimately caressing on a rumpled bed. The other, by Adrienne Vaughan is a suite of larger canvases presenting landscape-derived abstractions.

Vaughan’s tactile paintings are a kind of raw hybrid blending Georgia O’Keefe and Howard Hodgkin. Lots of pattern and delicate hints of aerial viewing, with woody textures and gridded allusions to very pale blankets or intricate worsted jackets. There are also ‘holes’ in the picture-plane, abrupt shifts in rendered space that you tend to mentally plummet through as if in a strange dream. This is because the gaps are ethereal and devoid of patterned density; vaguely referencing Magritte or Ernst.

Something about Vaughan’s compressed tweedy textures hints of a certain Edwardian masculinity, suggesting grandad’s old herringbone winter coat. There is a fineness in the packed arrays of small marks and faint washes where nothing is slick - only slightly rough. The imperfect shapes floating close to the viewer have an appealing coarseness as if hacked out, not painted for their edges wobble as if battered, while the distant cloudy skies puff along with streaky blushes of pink and wispy grey.

Hobson-Ritchie’s gambolling hairless figures of indeterminate gender look foetal and ratlike. Whilst clammy and repulsive these identical couples are also tender and loving little humans, thoroughly absorbed in each other. The trouble is they are badly rendered, as if their limbs are made of rubber and boneless - and devoid of muscle. These lovey-dovey but neutered little folk simply are not convincing; it is as if they have been made with limp plasticine.

It is odd seeing this artist construct paintings from such sci-fi subject matter and not make an animated film or even a sculpture. Their narrative potential seems curtailed within the painting format, film having the potential to make the creatures more interesting as elements in a story - once the artist has sorted out technical problems - and sculpture (if large) allowing more detail.

John Hurrell

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