Philip Trusttum's work at Whitespace is paradoxical. The chequered figures that fill the picture space with sharp-edged energy are shown in a variety of colours that all sing together. Yet all these choppy compositions of colour and shape coalesce into aggressive military figures in battle gear. This is symbolised by the thrust of weaponry, barred teeth and staring eyes.
The style is cubist with more than a touch of Picasso. Elements of Guernica abound but without the monochrome of that masterly commentary on war. Here brilliant colour combinations make up fractured, angry figures but the initial impression is of toy soldiers.
There may be an irony in the colour. Uniforms have always been spectacular on parade rather than in the field and guns have a special fascination in their efficiency of purpose. Yet both are the servants of killing.
Detail contradicts this first impression. It is not only the bared teeth in a red mouth of the figures in This Way and Let's Go but also in the general movement forward with aggressive intent. Even the taut patterning of the headless Well conceals knife and gun. The decisive edges of the collage of canvas on canvas have a sharpening effect.
These complex works are paintings, not anti-war posters. The vivid images make art as potent as anything Trusttum has done before in his long career.
The front part of the gallery also offers a paradox. The superbly crafted abstract sculptures of Graham Bennett reference out-of-date instruments: astrolabes, sextants and theodolites. Most are mounted on tripods. Several are equipped with a simple plumb bob " an ancient device to establish accurate levels and horizontals. The show is called Loss Adjuster.
The sculptures evoke these ancient devices by the shapes of their highly polished curves, axles, discs and pulleys and by the precise craftsmanship of their making. The devices all suggest movement and manipulation. The paradox is that they are mostly static with the notable exception of the large Selfie, with an adjustable mirror which meets the desire for involvement by the viewer.
The work of Gregor Kregar at Gow Langsford in Lorne St called Lost World has two components reflecting different aspects of his career.
The first is his concern with structures. In recent years he has improvised grand gothic temples out of demolition timber. Here he has cast recycled glass into the shape of concrete blocks made precise and solid but with a dense watery transparency. From the blocks he has made a wall and a series of plinths as an environment to show bronze sculpture. The wall has neon tubes running through the blocks to give it elements of glowing colour.
The blocks are a complete contrast with the rest of the work cast in bronze. Kregar has often elevated commonplace objects into art by changing their scale or colour. His garden gnomes of all shapes and sizes have gained a familiar place on the art scene.
This time it is dinosaurs. Intrigued by his son's fascination with plastic toy prehistoric animals, he has cast large versions of them, retaining their simple surfaces and structures but giving them weight and presence. They come in editions of eight.
The enlargement and stance of their simplified shapes give them an unexpected element of wit. They are heavy and sculptural in all their different forms of Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus and T-Rex. The Triceratops is particularly effective with its horns at odds with funny fat legs.
The twist of the show is the piquant positioning of the bronze creatures on glass mountings. It is the contrast between weight and fragility. This is reinforced by drawings that place the monsters in the tall glass towers of a city. It all makes an imaginative exhibition with considerable poise.
The Anna Miles Gallery is the venue for the latest show of work of Johanna Pegler whose practice shows the outcome of patient accumulation of small touches of paint done with meditated care.
The subjects are conventional landscapes. A second look reveals they have the underlying strangeness of an unusual, innocent vision.
The large painting Sibling shows Mount Taranaki sitting astride the work, painted with a density that contrasts it with the clouds above, which are done in a different manner and yield to the peculiar diagonal drive of the winds. In front is a golden land with hedgerows and a tree. The top of another tree is a prickly presence in the foreground. The subject is conventional but the atmosphere strange. The oddity is emphasised by four goats spaced about in a field. They are at once innocent but intrusive.
A similar vision in Shore turns reeds on the edge of an estuary into sentinels. Driftwood becomes bony relicts of time passed. These patient, careful works convey a special Wordsworthian spirit in the countryside unconnected to people.