A week or so ago John Reynolds was declared an Arts Laureate and he continues to add more laurels to his crown. Following his success at the Sydney Biennale and his great hall of names project at the Auckland Art Gallery, is a lively exhibition with only a few days to run at the Sue Crockford Gallery.
His work has been considered difficult, particularly his austere and complex mark-making and tracking. But when he turned to painting words on little tablets it added another popular, witty dimension. By the Biennale, the words had taken on a New Zealand resonance and achieved popular success. The work at the AAG has similar success.
This latest show emphasises something else in his armoury of visual talents - ability with colour. As in previous shows, this is dominated by a work that fills a wall - Last Evenings on Earth, which swoops from left to right like an apocalyptic shower of colourful comets. It incorporates an extraordinary range of colours from bronze highlights at the top to a touch of darkness in the lower right corner.
This powerful work is abstract; no words are used. Nor are there words in the four, richly coloured smaller paintings in the same style. These are toughened by strong parallel vertical and horizontal lines that hint of freehand Mondrian, among circles of coloured light. A spray technique gives these the appearance of starbursts. In contrast, there is a threnody about drowning inscribed on a life preserver and a vase that hints of ashes and past civilisations, called Catastrophe Theory.
Some of Reynolds' little paintings with words cap it off. Sadly, this time they do not encapsulate New Zealand slang, but recent British coinages such as "arm candy". It is a small exhibition but filled with variety of effect and subject, individual in style and done with great assurance.
There is no variety of medium in the work of young painter Candi Dentice at the Edmiston Duke Gallery until November 25. She has lavished infinite precision on painting trees in a conventional manner, from isolated specimens to thick bush.
All artists have their own conventions for painting foliage and her bushy trees and strong trunks make convincingly realistic images. Yet the effect is more surreal than real. In Child's Play the trees have bound roots and are arranged in a child's trolley in a wide arid landscape. Is it a peculiar dream about reforestation as child's play?
The desire to give the so-carefully-painted images a spin does not sit well on Final Performance, which is three trees on a stage taking a bow. Yet there is a powerful sense of movement as trees spread to the horizon in Forever Green. The best of this thoughtful exhibition combines meticulous technique with concern for the environment, and a hint of mystery emphasised by the wrapped trees in Cherished or the protesting dark of the untouched, natural background to a tree illuminated with lights in A Life Cut Short. There are plenty of symbols here for those who look for them.
Precision on a grander scale is apparent in the work of Neal Palmer who is showing at SOCA Gallery in France St, Newton. Individual paintings often consist of panels of aluminium on board. They are held together by a dancing rhythm of intersecting geometric arcs. Behind these are accurately painted pohutukawa and flax. These are exuberant, three times life size, and often startlingly red though with a hint of decay and insect activity. The brushwork emphasises such things as the fibrous nature of flax leaves.
The rhetorical enlargement, geometry and realism celebrate the variety of growth in many forms, from the trumpeting stamen of a big red hibiscus in Feeling Fruity, to the erect thrust of red flax flowers in Big Love.
This accomplished exhibition is called The Sum of Their Parts and surely the total comes to more than their sum.