Upstairs at Starkwhite Gallery in Karangahape Rd is a hilarious video, Habibi Kebab, by Austrian artists Paul Horn and Harald Hund.
It's a brave dealer gallery that would show this grotesque take on art dealing. The artists have taken a faded, B-grade Turkish film, involving mother and daughter cabaret singers, and added subtitles that purport to be translations of the dialogue but are loaded with appalling art industry jargon.
The ultimate irony is that, at the end, the dealer considers the mother past her best and changes hats to try to sell her a pension plan. The interplay between subtitles and action makes a witty comment on the relationship between art and selling.
Mistrust of the business of dealer galleries is one aspect of the latest debate about art resale. Yet whatever happens overseas, here they also perform sterling service as a forum, offering artists of every stripe contact with the public.
Downstairs at Starkwhite is an exhibition of photography where some of the offerings are at the cutting edge of the manipulation of photographs for artistic purposes. Particularly notable are the images of Jae Hoon Lee, whose Space Tree can be a digital photograph or a light box. It shows a hovering branch with one twig breaking off and made piquant by the single note of a bright red apple. Lee's photographs of Muriwai and Piha, manipulated to emphasise intricate patterns of foam, are also singularly fine.
Just a step along K Rd at Michael Lett is an unusually chaste and cool exhibition, The White House Years, until May 5. It is made more unusual because it is by Ava Seymour, whose previous work was extreme social comment: collages of grotesques outside state houses or images of sex shops on K Rd.
These are photographs of collages showing exquisite shadings of colour, isolated on fields of white within a white frame. The result is distant and severe.
Individual works such as Alberto, with its delicate shades of blue, or Palm Beach, with one bright signal in the centre of more modulations of blue, are particularly fine, but the exhibition is much more than the sum of its parts. Here is a dealer gallery show of extreme refinement, an unexpected development from an established artist.
A gallery can also be the forum for an artist's first show. This is the case at Satellite Gallery in St Benedicts St where B. Broughan (the name is intentionally gender neutral) is showing work titled The Watercolourist who Swallowed the Botanist who Swallowed the Cartoonist.
At first sight these dense watercolour paintings look like botanical drawings. Twisting systems of roots are revealed in amazingly fine detail. But there is much more going on here. Every painting has a hint of the human in it, a lurking animal character.
Hairy roots raise rugged hands in admiration in a work called Welcome to the Kingdom. An extraordinary hairy snout, vegetable but with a hint of iron teeth, driven forward by a mass of roots painted with astonishing delicacy, is called Lesbian Folk Art. A complex clump of rhizomes with brown roots and green shoots titled Small Blowing Out Feeling, Like a Whale is a small masterpiece.
One quibble: only when the jointing of forms becomes really unnatural, as in New Technology for Feeling Lucky, is the strange, surreal quality of the work a little compromised. It is an impressive debut but runs only until May 8.
Elizabeth Rees, whose work is at the Milford Gallery, also until just the end of the week, is an artist who has exhibited regularly since 1989. She began with social satire linked to television and celebrity and moved to cloudy images of people looking down roads that led out of town. Her work was characterised by a control over atmosphere allied to deft brushwork, that gave tension to her landscapes and skies.
In this show, called Sequence, she has turned her attention to the interpenetration of sea and sky. Her work is fragmented and plays variations on the theme of land and water. One of these accumulations of similar images is appropriately called Fugue. Somewhere in the background is a hint of McCahon's Six Days in Nelson and Canterbury, with its attention to the light beyond the ridge. But in Rees' work, which is more explicitly at the edge of the city, reflections on water have been added.
There are also figures, lost in the mist, that add a touch of mystery, as do obscure references to wharfs and bridges. Her achievement is to make coherent, formal arrangements which, nevertheless, have strong elements of place. Once again, a show at a dealer gallery alerts to new directions in the work of a a substantial artist.
Rees' colour is muted but the colour of Kirsty Wade, showing paintings at Whitespace Gallery, is vivid. Yet her method is the same. She makes lively, abstract paintings out of observation of landscape and parks. The cheerful results are on show until May 5.