Kate Lee – 14 November, 2016
The most engrossing part of the photographs is the incredible juxtaposition it creates between the flashes of light that leap across the surfaces and the objects that look as if they are stuck in time. There is also the idea of the camera being a shrine to the flare, with each photograph showing fleeting images of vivacious, reflecting and refracting illumination.
Cerith Wyn Evans
26 October - 26 November 2016
Cerith Wyn Evans is an artist who has shown three times before in New Zealand: Michael Lett; Hopkinson Mossman; and The Light Show. Known primarily for dynamic artworks that interweave light, space and time, Evans primarily focuses on the fluidity of light, with photography proposing an alternative method of exploring the idea.
The neon work things are conspicuous in their absence… is a horizontally arranged phrase made up of white neon lettering. Suspended from the ceiling, it makes a powerful impression in its size and also neon quality. It commands the space, with the text acting as a signifier of absence in the otherwise unlit gallery. Although the absence of light is to some extent compromised by the sunlight that saturates the space, this also works to give added effect to the dark/light contrasts.
The neon lighting in context of the Lett space in K road is also quite clever. There are the familiar urban properties of neon, its bright attractive quality, and the rounded, familiar font of the phrase; very similar to subtitles in foreign films that combined together make movies approachable. These factors also candidly engage the viewer by providing versions of the written or spoken words representing the absent.
Tucked behind the neon work is a stack of black and white posters on the floor. These replicas of photographic prints are on display downstairs and link work in two separate spaces. The diminishing stack also works in conjunction with the idea of absence that is a strong underpinning theme. The posters are new to Wyn Evans’ oeuvre, and seem there to introduce the New Zealand viewers to the Welsh born artist. The gesture is well intended but is a little disjunctive in context of the neon work and the photographs downstairs that form such a cohesive whole.
Downstairs a series of black and white, almost Dada-esque photographs are centred on items on a mantelpiece that include portrait photographs, a blank filmstrip and a domed glass stand. The two framed portrait photographs in the images are of Alwyn Jones and George Taylor; two members of a paramilitary Welsh Nationalist organisation who in 1969 were accidentally killed by a bomb set up to disrupt the investiture of the Prince of Wales. There is a slight suggestion of the horror of their deaths (‘the Abergale Martyrs‘) with the sequence of images that progress in a hawk-like view showing warped and haunting views of the men. Also with idea of absence running throughout the show, it is possible the photographs become replacements for the presence of the two Welshmen.
However, the most engrossing part of the photographs is the incredible juxtaposition it creates between the flashes of light that leap across the surfaces and the objects that look as if they are stuck in time. The dynamism of the photographs is lively and refreshing in offering alternative perspectives of both the animated and claustrophobic nature of light. There is also the idea of the camera being a shrine to the flare, with each photograph showing fleeting images of vivacious, reflecting and refracting illumination.
The photographs, particularly after the brightness of the neon work, illustrate the evanescent light shifting and reconfiguring across the two different spaces. In this way, by following the light through the artworks there is a palpable awareness of light’s energetic nature as it weaves back to the first item. In making these connections, the only difficult part is that the show does not lend itself easily to form these links. Only in returning back to the initial work does the circularity of the show begin to piece together to form a traceable map of what Wyn Evans seems striving to do. However, this does not detract from the overall impact that attracts admiration by setting out refined and attentive ways to decode light.
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GRACE BUTLER MEMORIAL FOUNDATION AWARD AT ARA
3 Month Studio Residency for an Artist with an Association with Canterbury