Commentary

Commentary
Doctor Jazz Stomp and the Webb Lane Sound

Doctor Jazz Stomp and the Webb Lane Sound

“Bill Hammond is long, lithe and tired, and was born several years ago. Is currently pursuing a Fine Arts course and trying hard to catch up. He is deeply interested in the aesthetic implications of sleep, sports the Rat-Chewed Look in coiffures for ’68, and dreams about blind mice in bikinis. He has never been known to sing outside the confines of his bedroom. Shows a marked but languid preference for the subtle textural nuances and dynamic shadings of washboard, cowbell, woodblocks, claves, cymbal, spoons, thimbles, tambourine, and the palms of the hands in percussive contact.”

Commentary
Power and Possibility

Power and Possibility

Jonathan Jones, art critic for the Guardian newspaper, described it as “a spectacle that displays the power and mystery of our planet”. Made more than forty years ago, Walter De Maria’s 1977 sculpture The Lightning Field remains one of the world’s most ambitious manifestations of light-based art.

Commentary
The Time Problem

The Time Problem

Time is a problem in the contemporary world. There is simply not enough of it. Our to-do lists are too long; the time available to do what needs to be done is too short; the demands on our attention are increasingly brutal. Digital technologies track the minutiae of how we spend our days, but the sheer speed at which things seem to be happening makes it difficult to keep up.

Commentary
Do You See?

Do You See?

With the death of Julie King late in 2018, art and art history in Aotearoa New Zealand lost one of its great champions and major scholars. Julie was born in Yorkshire and grew up and was educated in Alnwick, Northumberland; she moved to Christchurch in 1975 to take up a role lecturing in the newly formed art history department at the University of Canterbury. She retired three decades later, having pioneered the teaching of New Zealand art in Canterbury.

Commentary
Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism

Artist William Wegman has been photographing his Weimaraners in endless humanoid situations for more than four decades. Starting with Man Ray in the 1970s, Fay Ray in the 1980s and her subsequent offspring ever since, Wegman’s most popular artistic foil has been his pet dogs. For a number of reasons, this has occasionally meant his work has been thought of as naïve or sentimental – a trivial comic enterprise not too dissimilar to Anne Geddes’s notorious baby photos.

Commentary
As Stark and Grey as Stalin's Uniform

As Stark and Grey as Stalin's Uniform

Heading along to the stunning Rita Angus: Life & Vision survey exhibition at the Gallery in 2009 I always had this nagging feeling that one work was missing from the walls – Angus’s Gasworks from 1933. This painting was one that I knew only through the black and white image that appeared first in a volume of Art in New Zealand in 1933; the same reproduction that was later used in Jill Trevelyan’s excellent biography of Angus and also in the catalogue for the National Art Gallery’s 1982 retrospective, Rita Angus. For the New Zealand art historian, Gasworks was a kind of legend – painted by one of the country’s best artists yet seen in person by only a very few. In 1975, when Gordon H. Brown curated New Zealand Painting 1920–1940: Adaption and Nationalism, Gasworks was listed as ‘location unknown’ in the accompanying catalogue. Amazingly the painting was also not included in the retrospective exhibition of 1982. We had grown to know this painting purely through a grainy black and white illustration from 1933. But the painting was never lost – Gasworks is a painting that has been cherished, protected and loved by the same Christchurch family since the early 1940s. And now, having been placed on loan to Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, it is available for the public to view for the first time since 1933, when it was shown at the Canterbury Society of Arts.

Commentary
The World Tossed Continuously in a Riot of Colour, Form, Sound

The World Tossed Continuously in a Riot of Colour, Form, Sound

One hundred and twenty five years ago, after years of political struggle, Aotearoa New Zealand granted all adults the right to vote by extending suffrage to women. To mark this anniversary, for this issue of Bulletin our curators have written about some of the Gallery’s significant – yet lesser-known – nineteenth and mid-twentieth-century works by women. Our intention is to make these paintings, and the cultural contribution of the artists, more visible in 2018.

Commentary
An Undeniable Promise

An Undeniable Promise

There is such a burden of expectation placed on Anne’s painting, and on the exhibition… itself. I feel, like many women painters that she is being asked to prove an undeniable promise. This is unfair.

Commentary
Representing Women: Ann Shelton’s Dark Matter

Representing Women: Ann Shelton’s Dark Matter

What is ‘dark matter’? For theoretical physicists it is matter that cannot be directly observed but whose existence is nevertheless scientifically calculable –  productively present yet simultaneously invisible. In a similar vein, the everyday phrase ‘dark matter’ describes objects, conditions and situations that harbour unease or trauma. Trauma that is often concealed, repressed, or buried. Both definitions are active in Ann Shelton’s mid-career review exhibition Dark Matter, and they provide a rich point of entry into this compelling collection of her photographic work. These are photographs that bristle with intensity and refuse to let their subjects die a quiet archival death.

Commentary
Our Instinct Enhanced

Our Instinct Enhanced

What does Bridget Riley’s art mean? We might imagine that a wall painting titled Cosmos (2016–17) referred to life within a cosmos, an order than encompasses us, whether natural or divine. The designation connotes a degree of philosophical speculation, unlike the direct descriptions that Riley occasionally employs as titles, such as Composition with Circles. But whatever meaning we derive from viewing Cosmos will be no more intrinsic to it than its name. Attribution of meaning comes after the fact and requires our participation in a social discourse. Every object or event to which a culture attends acquires meaning; and Riley’s art will have the meanings we give it, which may change as our projection of history changes. Meaning, in this social and cultural sense, is hardly her concern.

Load more