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Was it serendipity that the opening of Christchurch Art Gallery's Burster Flipper Wobbler Dripper Spinner Stacker Shaker Maker coincided with that of Slip Cast, a group exhibition at the Dowse Art Museum that also focused on the pleasure that artists take in manipulating materials in the process of making art?
The New Plymouth-based Don Driver worked from the mid-1970s until the 1990s on sculptural assemblages made from found materials. Echoing the work of American pop artist Robert Rauschenberg, whose work Driver had experienced while visiting New York
in 1965, Energy Triad makes assertive use of familiar, locally sourced items, placing pioneering farming tools alongside advertising and road signage, all with a meticulous eye to formal balance and arrangement.
Bill Culbert’s high school art teacher asked his students to stand in a dark room, then went outside. The sunlight streamed through the keyhole, projecting a tiny image of him – upside down and waving – on the room’s far wall. From that moment, Culbert was excited by light’s power to transform how we see the world. These sculptures were some of the first he made exploring the possibilities of electric light. In Celeste, he placed a lightbulb into a dark box full of tiny holes, then put that inside a bigger Perspex box so that it generates multiple ‘ghost’ bulbs on the outside. Reflection 1 tests the line between reality and illusion, as another bulb repeats itself into infinity. Culbert liked ordinary, everyday materials best, believing they left more room for the imagination.
(Wheriko - Brilliant! 17 May 2019 – 16 February 2020)
Roy Lichtenstein’s Flowers is art about art; a parody both of cubism and of the long-established still
life genre. Lichtenstein was a leading figure in
the American pop art movement from the 1960s. He began making still lifes in 1972, riffing off artists such as Fernand Léger, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse and Piet Mondrian while applying his adaptation of graphic comic book style and commercial printing techniques.
Flowers exists in multiple versions. The screenprint (and a Christmas card) followed a much larger work in paper collage, tape and marker on card.
Neil Dawson’s sculptures consistently explore the slippage between appearance and reality. We think we see solid forms, but on closer inspection they turn out to be illusions.
Whiteout conveys Dawson’s fascination with these ideas and playfully challenges our perceptions of space and movement. This wall sculpture is reminiscent of the early structures of the Dadaists and Russian Constructivist sculptors Vladimir Tatlin (1885–1953) and Antoine Pevsner (1886–1962) in the early 20th century. Dawson is one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary site-specific artists. His innovative use of sculptural materials and principles of perspective are evident in this early example of his work.
Born in Christchurch, Dawson studied at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, Melbourne. He has exhibited widely and has several major public installations in New Zealand and internationally.