John Hurrell – 5 October, 2014
With this new project, we see her interest shift from the horizontal to the vertical, from the opaque to the transparent, from fast velocity to slow, and from energised blurry wall sculpture to a slower moving installation of lined up prismatic towers (enclosed within a massive frame) that project delicate configurations of light onto the gallery walls.
Once More With Feeling
20 September - 18 October 2014
Up to now Perth artist Rebecca Baumann has been known in this country for her Automated Colour Fields - highly regarded kinetic relief ‘paintings’ where airport flight destination noticeboards, with rapidly moving flaps, have had their whirring components coloured. She presented them in Bazinga, a group show that Robert Leonard organised for Starkwhite in Auckland a couple of years ago, and also in Burster Flipper Wobbler Dripper Spinner Stacker Maker Shaker, a more recent exhibition Justin Paton and Felicity Milburn set up for a long show in Christchurch Art Gallery’s Artbox.
With this new project, we see her interest shift from the horizontal to the vertical, from the opaque to the transparent, from fast velocity to slow, and from energised blurry wall sculpture to a slower moving installation of lined up prismatic towers (enclosed within a massive frame) that project delicate configurations of light onto the gallery walls. The film on the long glass strips varies so that sometimes it reflects and sometimes you can see through. These triangular cross-sectioned units move around and vary in their propensity to filter through yellow, cyan and magenta light, kinetically effecting, refracting and reflecting a beam of white light aimed at the freestanding planar structure from a lamp positioned by the front window.
The result is a shimmering reflecting effect when you look at this constantly transmuting ‘slab’ from the Karangehape Road side, and a slightly more stable, see-through, view of the outside traffic and shops from the Starkwhite office /staircase side.
Ignoring the sculptural component as a twinkling glass wall in the centre of the room, one soon becomes preoccupied with its kaleidoscopic impact on the floor, walls and ceiling - the turning slivers of radiating coloured lines. The optical consequences are that different parts of the room’s architecture features are affected in different ways, according to the angle of the ‘wall’ (with its changeable, rattling revolving columns) to the beam of white light.
On the walls there are three types of fleeting, colourful, alignment. On the long wall that leads to the staircase is a series of regular bands - separated by thin white lines - strips of pink, orange, and mauve, mixed with what seem to be hanging strings of twitching pale blue wire. As they move further away from the window the bands distort and their thicknesses increase.
Another linear configuration occurs in the inner righthand corner, on the other side of the office door. Ten to a dozen crooked deep blue and purple lines huddle vertically at the meeting of the two walls, glowing like abandoned neon branches. With each collective turning of the columns, their origins (spiky purple shards) splay out across the floor from the base of the frame, while the third type, washes of crinkled yellow, dramatically sweep across the longest wall in the room to settle shuddering above the wide windows and double doors.
In this display the fluorescent tubes in the gallery ceiling are deliberately left on, the white light preventing a cavelike ambience and encouraging a sense of fragile chroma, a delicate vulnerability. The colour is not saturated or super intense, but more liquid and watery, something nuanced (slightly distant) and not in-your-face. With the regular movement providing an element of slightly incongruous surprise - in contrast to the stability of the soothing pastel tones - Once More with Feeling with its comparatively slow speed becomes not frenetically visceral but a quality more meditative and calmer. A rack of vertical ‘Venetian blinds’ radiating colour, Baumann‘s method of ‘drawing’ and ‘painting’ on peripheral planes is subtle but nevertheless quietly exhilarating.