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Mikala Dwyer in Auckland

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Mikala Dwyer, In the Head of Humans, as installed at Hopkinson Mossman Mikala Dwyer, Costumes 1-3, 2016, fabric , plastic, spray enamel, 2300 x 500 x 700 mm overall approx each. Mikala Dwyer, In the Head of Humans, as installed at Hopkinson Mossman Mikala Dwyer: Charm for Wall, 2016, ceramic wood, modelling clay, moonstone, Philospher's Stone, turquoise, Midori, acrylic, brass wire, string, Perspex, glass, chain, 200 x 2300 x 100 mm overall; In the Head of Humans, 2016, acrylic on linen, 400 x 500mm Mikala Dwyer, In the Head of Humans, 2016, acrylic on linen, 400 x 500mm Mikala Dwyer: Charm for Wall, 2016, ceramic wood, modelling clay, moonstone, Philospher's Stone, turquoise, Midori, acrylic, brass wire, string, Perspex, glass, chain, 200 x 2300 x 100 mm overall Mikala Dwyer, BB, 2016, acrylic on linen, 500 x 400 mm Mikala Dwyer, Backdrop for Base Matter, 2016, acrylic on canvas, ceramic. Three elements. Backdrop: 6000x 2200mm. ceramics: 330 x 150 x 180 mm, and 350 x 200 x 180 mm Mikala Dwyer, Backdrop for St Jude, 2016, acrylic on canvas, ceramic, copper rod. Two elements - Backdrop: 8000 x 2200 mm. ceramic: 600 x 150 x 150 mm Mikala Dwyer, Backdrop for Rounders, 2016, acrylic on canvas, glazed ceramic, wooden base, glitter. Three elements. Backdrop: 6000 xx 2200 mm, ceramics: 300 x 100 x 100 mm, 560 x 100 x 100 mm Mikala Dwyer, Backdrop for Rounders, 2016, acrylic on canvas, glazed ceramic, wooden base, glitter. Three elements. Backdrop: 6000 xx 2200 mm, ceramics: 300 x 100 x 100 mm, 560 x 100 x 100 mm Mikala Dwyer, The Squaring, 2016, detail, bronze, ceramic, Perspex, rope, glass, fibreglass, silk, 2800 x 3000 overall approx.

With these configurations of strangely dressed ‘tribal' figures, and vaguely portrait physiognomies on flags, you get the sense that like say, Don Driver, Dwyer is aiming for an instinctual, primal or elemental means of generating emotion - something visceral not too mediated by cognitive processes. Yet these disturbing images are not rushed but meticulously made.

Auckland

 

Mikala Dwyer
In the Head of Humans

 

29 July - 27 August 2016

Australian artist Mikala Dwyer has been exhibiting in New Zealand regularly in group and solo shows (with Hamish McKay) for at least a couple of decades, and is much admired as an innovator.

Astonishingly this Hopkinson Mossman presentation is her first dealer gallery solo exhibition in Auckland. The big room (Gallery Two) features three long sprawling colourful banners that are suspended with grommets from high up the wall, and which spill down to extend right across the floor. With pairs of glistening and gnarly simian-like ceramics on their ends, and a large geometric mobile suspended from the ceiling, the Hopkinson Mossman space is thoroughly utilised. It is an excitingly physical show which immerses the visitor.

Vaguely extending the notion of imaginative portraiture, these very long acrylic on canvas works tease out horizontality and being looked down upon, flowing vertically like curving waterfalls to cover over the crease between floor and wall. The flat colours and geometric shapes make them look like decorative drapes of stitched-up fabric and they have the proportions of unfurled banners. The glazes on the ceramics look slightly metallic as they twinkle with the bright colours of the fluoro tubes installed in the ceiling above.

The centrally positioned mobile with its reflecting diamond- shaped surfaces, circular ceramics, bronze turkey foot, silk flag, glass rods and anthropomorphic wooden shapes, projects a lot of energy with its movement and mirroring. It is a larger swivelling variation of the necklace-like array of fetish objects (including a bottle of green Midori liqueur) suspended from a chain in Gallery One.

In Gallery One, on the outside wall that is part of the corridor leading to Gallery Two, are also three dramatic figures: lusciously coloured layered ‘dresses’ or ‘gowns’ that tumble down and bunch up over the floor, and which are suspended from hooks. Each one has a bulky triangular plastic mask - covered with sprayed paint - positioned at the top. Two of these ‘heads’ are like huge cattle skulls, and the other is like a KKK hood with a pointed peak.

With these configurations of strangely dressed ‘tribal’ figures, and vaguely portrait physiognomies on flags, you get the sense that like say, Don Driver, Dwyer is aiming for an instinctual, primal or elemental means of generating emotion - something visceral not too mediated by cognitive processes. Yet these disturbing images are not rushed but meticulously made. The compositional placement, especially within a couple of wall paintings of acrylic on stretched linen, is precise and clearly carefully considered. One of the paintings, BB, is a particularly beautiful construction, resulting in a head that seems made of projecting leaf shapes and coloured tongues - and oddly, seemingly nothing to do with Brigitte Bardot.

This is an exciting show to experience and think about, and hopefully, the first of many more Dwyer exhibitions in Auckland to come.

John Hurrell

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