A Judy Millar retrospective shows the visceral strength of the artist's works

By T.J. McNamara

Judy Millar: Untitled
Judy Millar: Untitled

What: Turning the World Inside Out: 30 years a Painter by Judy Millar
Where and when: Gow Langsford Gallery, 26 Lorne St, to September 24
TJ says: An exceptionally strong exhibition with hard forms full of painterly energy against soft masses of colour in a manner the artist has made uniquely her own.

Turning the World Inside Out: 30 years a Painter is an apt title for Judy Millar's big exhibition at Gow Langsford Gallery. There has been a consistent gain in complexity in her work while retaining a characteristic idiom that makes her work instantly recognisable.

In recent years, Millar has explored three-dimensional forms that involved sculptural shapes filling rooms, folding and under tension. After these large installations, the present show is a return to conventional painting size.

Yet it still revolves around extraordinary gestural painting that suggests growth in the heart of things not with direct representation or obvious symbolism, but rather suggesting life forces at work by the intricate twist and turn of energetic freely painted intricate shapes.

In the past, the intricate foldings of paint were flat and occupied the whole space of the work against a fairly plain background. In this substantial exhibition of a dozen or more paintings, the shapes are much more sinewy and three-dimensional and have a muscular strength.

This painterly gain is accompanied by a higher key of colour in the background of these works. Though clear and rich, it is softer than in the artist's earlier images and so suggests more depth and gives more sense light and air. In some cases, it floods over the solid branching forms rising through them to the surface.

The result is a very handsome suite of paintings all with a family resemblance but sufficiently individual to range from the very bony Individual - against a background of red and gold - to the moody depths of Suspense of Night and the deep voids of That Day.

The unique quality, complexity and subtlety of these works is emphasised by the resurrection of an untitled painting by the artist from 1987 as an introduction to the show. It is a lively work but far from the intensity and individuality of the recent painting.

Judy Millar's proposed Auckland Art Gallery sculpture
Judy Millar's proposed Auckland Art Gallery sculpture


Judy Millar has been commissioned by Auckland Art Gallery Foundation to produce a site-specific artwork for the gallery's south atrium. A concept model (pictured above) was recently unveiled and the foundation continues to fundraise toward this.

Bill Hammond: Animal Vegetable Acrylic
Bill Hammond: Animal Vegetable Acrylic

What: Antipodean Gothic: Art from a private collection
Where and when: Gus Fisher Gallery, 74 Shortland St, to October 1
TJ says: An academic exercise in a post-graduate course in Art Writing and Curatorial Practice at the University of Auckland has resulted in a remarkable show of big art works by important contemporary New Zealand artists.

Big guns in New Zealand painting are assembled in an unusual show at the University of Auckland's Gus Fisher Gallery. Thirteen students from a post-graduate Art History Writing and Curatorial Practice course have been given the opportunity to select a work from an outstanding private collection and write a catalogue entry. Their choices, notably by Bill Hammond and a couple of his contemporaries, like Brendon Wilkinson, make up what is an excellent show.

It takes its title, Antipodean Gothic, from a painting by William Dunnning which sets the tone of uneasiness and social criticism. The Hammond works are large and range from an early work done on peg board - as if he wanted it shot full of holes - through to one of his grand mythical paintings of a land populated by birds.

On the way, in 1988, he painted Animal Vegetable Acrylic one of his most startling and edgy works. It is an interior full of people and objects done in a raw dissonant manner that suggests the restless and unease of the times. A man expressing his conflict with a woman, by thrusting his hand into a spiky bush, is a starling feature of the work and this results in an equally startling perspective.

One wall is given over to his wonderful, but oddly named, Hokey Pokey done 10 years later. It is the size of a mural, predominantly in dark blue and gold and populated mainly by birds and strange equine creatures. It hints at Aotearoa as an Arcadia but sin and envy have entered this Eden. There are exotic interventions and an impressively elegiac atmosphere. The student commentator compares it to Hieronymus Bosch.

The foyer is dominated by Brendon Wilkinson's Meat Dust one of his musty models that exude gloom in fascinating detail. Two figures lie on a double bed: the male is made up of crumbling and dusty hills with odd, macabre details in the face and eyes; beside him lies a female constructed from model buildings that might be taken from a broken down an administrative complex. It may express incompatible love or the sterility of the modern world or any interpretation in between, but it is certainly a remarkable if grim work.

The choices made by the students add up to an interesting retrospective show well worth seeing and fitting well into the university's public gallery.

Dylan Lind: Lookin' all Pretty
Dylan Lind: Lookin' all Pretty

What: Painting by Dylan Lind
Where and when: Orexart, 1/15 Putiki St, Arch Hill, to September 24
TJ says: Impressively big paintings with plenty of freedom and attack but with conflicting aims lost in clouds of conflict.

That the making of expressive art can be a complex struggle is made abundantly clear by the paintings of Dylan Lind at Orex Gallery. He has European and Cook Island heritage, has trained at a university level art school, has travelled extensively, admires some modern American artists and in previous work has shown an instinctive colour sense.

Yet these current paintings are images conflicting thought. They have a background of colours, form, graffiti and emblems all lost in or covered by white turbulent clouds through which his mark making barely appears. Only some words like "opinion" emerge importantly through the clouds. The size, gravity and attack of the works impress and, beyond the conflict, is the potential that out of turmoil something more linked to specific concerns might emerge.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 05 Dec 2016 11:09:56 Processing Time: 314ms