13 December 1996 – 12 January 1997
This exhibition of emergent local artists: Patric Tomkins, Violet Faigan, Jason Maling and Shelley Slater, identifies a current movement amongst some Christchurch artists, away from the slick production process of contemporary art practice. These artists create works which reflect the process and labour of their production; art in which "all the stitches show." In an exhibition where traditional definitions of assemblage, sculpture and painting are blurred, the preferred materials are prosaic. Everyday tools of paint and canvas are rejected in favour of media such as wallpaper, tea stains, and book pages.
In some works conventional materials are used, but their normal meanings subverted. Faigan and Maling both use paper, but it is pre-printed, bringing additional connotations. In other pieces objects like a dartboard, doors, or cricket boots are obscured by coverings or by context. Ink and pencil are employed, but accepted ideas about skill and technique are negated when the ink is spilt randomly and the pencil used to write the same phrase, or draw the same shape, over and over again.
Avoiding any preconceived creative intention, each artist has set a process in motion and then awaited the results. Often the 'experiment' involves strict rules and challenges, and all have evolved over an extended period of time. Slater has painstakingly carved a pot from Oamaru stone; Tomkins has built up large areas tirelessly worked in graphite pencil, which can be read as landscapes, abstracts or building site close-ups, using the most proletarian unit of construction: the brick. The laborious nature of the works in Everyday: Repetition and Transcendence is fundamental to these artists. Wary that some contemporary art seems too easy and effortless, their works involve an acknowledgement of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks that often form part of the creative process. The artists believe that disciplined, repetitive processes can result in contemplative states that release the consciousness, allow a closer examination of self and create the opportunity to make 'honest marks' free from hyperbole and contrivance.
The attempt to make work which cannot be dismissed as glib or slick, and the emphasis on labour intensive art founded in self-interrogation rather than market forces, is a unifying thread for these four artists. All have produced greatly varied and distinct pieces, showing an ultimate commitment to the creative process, and an interest in the artistic experience for its own sake. Like the 'Process Art' of the mid 1960s, these works invite the spectator to construct what has happened from the evidence placed before them, to admire the crafting as much as the conclusion.
('Everyday: Repetition and Transcendence', Bulletin, No.105, December 1996/January 1997, p.2)
This exhibition was held at the McDougall Art Annex in the Arts Centre.
Robert McDougall Art Gallery - Contemporary Art Annex