Behind the scenes
When it comes to contemporary painting, seriousness has a way of turning into solemnity, and solemn art is just asking for it.
Unfortunately, since the really big shake of 22 February, the same corridor has been filled with trestle tables loaded with civil defence gear – water bottles, stationery, clipboards, can of spray-paint, hi-vis vests and all the rest. Mark's painted characters have endured this interruption in the same spirit that Mark himself endured aftershocks when he was up a ladder making the mural – in good humour.
So let's be grateful to those artists who like to put a few banana skins in the path of painting and stand back to see what happens.
Though you wouldn't always know it from the official accounts, which make painting sound about as funny as a tax-audit, some of the most vital contemporary painters are those who see the joke – artists alive to the tragicomedy of painting's persistence in an age of mass media.
Overseas, Ashley Bickerton has made some of the most radiantly stupid paintings you'll ever clap eyes on, one of which I hope makes it to the walls when Auckland Art Gallery reopens in September (if it does, you can have a lot of fun watching kids read the scatological fine print). In New Zealand, the list would have to include Roger Boyce, Ronnie van Hout and especially Mark Braunias, who, back in October just after the first big shake, filled our education corridor with a high-hearted parade of goofy and gorgeously drawn monsters.