John Hurrell – 9 September, 2019
The first two feature in quite different modes of production and ideational themes—yet there are some surprising links. One creates AbEx paintings on heavy hefty canvases, the other makes photographs and sculptures that symbolically articulate a queer politic; while both present types of self portrait as well. Both also quietly blur the distinction between artwork and gallery walls by the use of blue spray paint and a piece of chewed gum.
Daniel John Corbett Sanders, Anh Trần
Intimate Atmospheres. and And then, one day, my love, you come out of eternity. (first part of 4/4)
31 August - 28 September 2019
In this two part presentation of four emerging artists, Artspace Aotearoa, instead of displaying a cluttered group show of many disparate talents, wisely focusses on a handful, giving them lots of space and attention. Daniel John Corbett Sanders’ Intimate Atmospheres. and Anh Trần’s And then, one day, my love, you will come out of eternity. are the first two minishows, to be followed in October by Severine Costa and Xander Dixon.
The first two feature quite different modes of production and ideational themes—yet there are some surprising links. One artist creates AbEx paintings on heavy hefty canvases, the other makes photographs, videos, drawings and sculptures that articulate a queer politic. Both present self portraits as well (one a photograph showing her comparatively diminutive size; the other a video presenting a Pasifika karaoke singer in colourful drag—in a gay bar—as a kind of surrogate). Both also occasionally blur the distinction between artwork and gallery wall by the use of blue spray paint and a piece of chewed gum.
Anh Trần’s large paintings feature marks made with oil, acrylic, Flashe and spray paint, sometimes integrated and overlapping—sometimes not. These are often dense compositionally; other times delicate and airy. The six gutsy works (one leans, the others are hung on the walls) are surprisingly varied in their approach to movement, texture, illusory space, mass and line. Three of them are named after the three fundamental orders of human existance in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. Particularly impressive within them visually is Trần’s use of dark cascading ‘waterfall’ marks, blocks of rhythmic short discrete brushstrokes (as opposed to denser, more solid and dominant shapes) that charge up her linen and canvas images.
One striking work, a simplified landscape with overtones of earlyish Guston and Twombly, featuring the crossed-out word ‘CLOUD’ printed in the sky, and a bloody haze underneath, could refer to Magritte’s famous The Treachery of Images, or maybe The Cloud of Unknowing of fourteenth century Christian mysticism. The ‘text’ seems to elucidate the evasiveness and slipperiness of language. It is not a cloud, nor is it an intact word referencing one. A sign nor a mere mark. As for Lacan? It bears little resemblence to his unusual diagrams, as say used in the paintings of Terrence Handscomb.
Daniel John Corbett Sanders also hovers over the indefinable, symbolically articulating ambivalences about the anus as a zone of pleasure in this time of the (still nevertheless) ongoing AIDS epidemic—possibly alluding to Leo Bersani‘s book, Is the Rectum a Grave? Their three photographs show circular-rimmed rubbish tins enclosing bin-liners, containing crumpled tissues, used condoms and other detritus, while a black ceramic ashtray, with a stubbed cigarette butt, lies beneath the projected video of Taz Takatapui singing the great Roy Orbison song, Blue Bayou, popularised by Linda Ronstadt.
The tune’s lyrics open with I feel so bad I’ve got a worried mind, a reference perhaps (in the gallery context) to not only anxiety about an easily transmittable.calamitously lethal and painful illness but also the de-radicalisation of AIDS activism (and the onset of conservatism of now normalised gay culture) as discussed in Douglas Crimp‘s anthology Melancholy and Moralism, and Samuel Te Kani’s excellent floorsheet text.
Sanders’ drawing by the door on crinkled plastic paper (a work bench cover) uses Sellotape to attach pills, swab packets, stickers, medical wipes and a nail file around the biroed and pencilled words ‘Gone to Berlin’ and drawn images of blood-bloated mosquitoes (blood-sampling nurses?). It hints at crisis and trauma, bodily stress, fear and vulnerability.
Both Sanders and Trần have made work about the body and its right of assertion over physical obstacles, social and mental challenges. To insistently celebrate pleasure, be that genital, visual, tactile, vocal, kinaesthetic, intellectual or spatial.
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