Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Is It Right to Laugh at Men Painting?

AA
View Discussion
Never Mind the Pollocks at St Paul St Gallery Three Bill Culbert, Four Yellow, 2010, plastocbottles, 60cm fluorescent tube and components. Courtesy of the artist and Sue Crockford James R Ford, Infinite Monkey Syndrome, 2012, HD video transferred to Blu-Ray. 9 min 8 sec loop. By the window, Peter Madden, Fell Shrieking To the Far end of the Dream, 2012, installation (paer and spray paint).courtesy of the artist and Ivan Anthony. Peter Madden, Organ Donor, paper and spray paint. Never Mind the Pollocks at St Paul St Gallery Three Elliot Collins, Iceland, 2011, oil on jute, 2800 x 1900. Courtesy of the artist and Tim Melville Never Mind the Pollocks at St Paul St Gallery Three Paul Cullen, Park (2), 2012,  aluminium deck chair, pencils and wooden jackstraws. 600 x 600 x 1100 mm Paul Cullen, Park (1), 2012, wood and steel table and pencils, 600 x 300 x 1200 mm Never Mind the Pollocks at St Paul St Gallery Three Wayne Youle, You question me? 2011, velvet and kauri, 320 x 130 x 130 mm. Courtesy of the artist and Suite Gallery Wayne Youle, More? than!, velvet and oak, 270 x 210 x 170 mm. Courtesy of the artist and Suite Gallery Arie Hellendoorn, King Rotate, 2012, acrylic on linen, 1200 x 800 mm.  Courtesy of the artist and Suite Gallery Never Mind the Pollocks at St Paul St Gallery Three. On far right, Linden Simmons, airbourne Toxic Event, 2012, watercolour on Hahnemuhle paer. Courtesy the artist and Tim Melville. Simon Esling, Death Becomes You, 2012, ink, India ink, watercolour on 300 gsm cold press. Courtesy of the artist and Melanie Roger Richard Maloy, colour photographs: Attempts 3 and Attempts 12. Courtsey of the artist and Sue Crockford Gallery

I'm surprised the notion lampooned here by artist/curator James R Ford has any currency at all, but still it lingers - as evidenced by recent performance works like those by Mark Harvey and Søren Dahlgaard at St Paul St and Te Tuhi, or Jim Allen's recreated 'Body Articulation/Imprint, Part 3, Contact,' where messy paint as a source of slapstick humour extends to the branch of art history itself.

Auckland

 

Group show
Never Mind the Pollocks
Curated by James R. Ford

 

22 November 2012 - 8 December 2012

It has a clever title this show of ten male artists, a conflated reference to testicles and painting, a mockery of masculinist art history when women were once excluded. Wit about Sex Pistols and AbExes aside (‘Never mind’ means really…‘we do mind’) I’m not sure how relevant any claims of connecting testosterone and manual pigment application are in 2012. As a concept to lash out against it seems a ‘straw man’, so many men now interested in the diminutive and delicate, and women in the massive and coarse.

So I’m surprised the notion lampooned here by artist/curator James R Ford has any currency at all, but still it lingers - as evidenced by recent performance works like those by Mark Harvey and Søren Dahlgaard at St Paul St and Te Tuhi, or Jim Allen’s recreated Body Articulation/Imprint, Part 3, Contact, where messy paint as a source of slapstick humour extends to the branch of art history itself. It is as if we are in the early seventies all over again, when the idea of paint being ‘dead’ and passé, perpetuated by strutting arrogant studs - a method with adherents to be easily mocked - was taken seriously.

Am I being too precious about painting here, the area I was trained in myself when a student? A little touchy maybe; over protective? The range of male artists here doesn’t really successfully comment on this medium, though the Icelandic legend Elliot Collins presents, in his text on canvas, describes seeds within fallen corpses growing into trees. A suggestion in this context that painting has rerisen like a phoenix.

Arie Hellendoorn’s two male portraits look like blokes wearing wrestling masks, especially the circular patterns on their faces which look like rippled crisps or wafer biscuits. There is a hint of the Eucharist, implying something like Collins’ seed, a sense of transubstantiation where the symbol transmutes into the referent literally. The wafer becomes the body of Christ - to speculate extravagantly in a new context - Jesus the painter.

In some works painting has resurfaced as photographs of random paint marks found on desks used in teaching studios. Richard Maloy’s images sometimes look composed, layers considered in their placement. He has picked photos that look like paintings; marks around the edges. Small Olitskis perhaps.

James R Ford’s own video involves an artwork where a random text making process is left for infinity - hoping that quality writing from a chimp pounding at a word processor comes by chance. Except that it is a woman in a chimp suit churning out marks on reams of stacked paper. A variation of Ronnie van Hout’s videoed apes, but not drunk, and not holding a paintbrush.

Sometimes big events are linked to small intimate versions of newspaper images. Linden Simmons’ intricately fine watercolours reference disasters and various calamities. Definitely a male artist with a light touch.

Simon Esling’s (Richard) Hamiltonesque image seems to have a collagist sensibility but is in fact direct drawing - it’s very intricate, with small illustrations of pistols and varieties of firearm that could be taken from the pages of a weapons manual. Beautifully understated, his tiny images are accompanied by dramatic swirls of ‘torn’ paint that imply some violent larger imminent catastrophe.

Peter Madden’s wall installation presents collages that hint at an exciting new direction: black and white composite portraits (more complex than say John Stezaker) to which he has delicately applied dark spray paint. These misty gradated tones on baroque shapes bring an elegant finish and extra cohesion and depth. They seem to allude to film. And Madden always has a fondness for the diminutive.

The small velvet wall sculptures of Wayne Youle are trophies of male genitalia that could be punch bags or droopy red bananas. Cute yet disturbing, they are soft toys to be squeezed, walloped or fondled. Attached to slick kauri and oak supports as if relics to be sold to tourists, these are symbols of a masculinity that seems here to be caring and sensitive.

Paul Cullen’s work also focusses on ‘tools’. His domestic sculpture has clusters of interconnected carpenters’ pencils hovering above partially stripped deck chairs. Modest engineering marvels, they spotlight traditional men’s workshop equipment as sculptural elements. In a similar fashion, Bill Culbert’s glowing sculptures (a ‘light’ touch literally) showcase a type of plastic oil container left by mechanics in many busy French garages.

Ford has a good eye, his selections here for the ten artists impress. There are no fizzers. I’m surprised because it’s hard to do consistently and this is a successfully stimulating combination, a ‘men’s group’ that works well. A refreshing show.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

This Discussion has 3 comments.

Comment

James R Ford, 10:20 a.m. 7 December, 2012

I would just like to add that show was not laughing at painting, or saying painting is dead in anyway, more that contemporary male art has moved away from angst laiden masculinity, into areas more delicate and light, with a sense of humour and breadth of medium.

Reply to this thread

John Hurrell, 10:45 a.m. 7 December, 2012

Yes James but is that move news now? That you think it is interests me - just as the nature of what say Mark and Soren are doing does. I mean that sticky poo-like stuff is serious material to handle.

Anyway, maybe painters should start getting a little stroppy. Jump up and down a bit.

Reply to this thread

James R Ford, 10:59 a.m. 7 December, 2012

Haha. This is more of a survey show of what's happening right now, in my opinion. If painters get stroppy maybe I'll curate a show about that...

Reply to this thread

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Tiffany Singh 's Collaboration is the Future as installed at Melanie Roger.

Singh at Roger

MELANIE ROGER GALLERY

Auckland

 

Tiffany Singh
Collaboration is the Future

 

31 January - 24 February 2018

JH
Role models, curated by Rob McKenzie, as installed at Hopkinson Mossman

Unpicking Identity

HOPKINSON MOSSMAN

Auckland

 

Robert Bittenbender, Ellen Cantor, Jennifer McCamley, Josef Strau
Role Models


26 January - 24 February 2018

JH
Gary Peters, A Slow Take, 2017 (installation view) commissioned by Te Tuhi, Auckland. Photo by Sam Hartnett

Two Site-Specific Paintings

TE TUHI CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

Pakuranga

 

Gary Peters
A Slow Take

 

18 November 2017 - 25 February 2018

JH
Installation at Te Tuhi of Shannon Te Ao's With the sun aglow, I have my pensive moods. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Shannon Te Ao at Te Tuhi

TE TUHI CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

Pakuranga

 

Shannon Te Ao
With the sun aglow, I have my pensive moods


18 November 2017 - 25 February 2018