Come on a tour of the highlights of the Auckland Art Gallery. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to visit the gallery today while in the city.
The renovated and extended Auckland Art Gallery reopened in September 2011. Its entrance is immediately impressive.
Outside the main entrance, Choi Jeong Hwa's installation of a dead tree and plastic flowers lays in a reflection pool. Entitled "Red", it provides a startling splash of colour to its neutral surrounds.
Brioni made up a word to describe me: redfull. Here is a redfull lady in front of redfull art.
Once in the gallery, I only photograph the works that are interesting to me. The gallery holds a fine collection of local and international artists, but not all of the pieces resonate with me.
So this is a very personal tour of the gallery. Here are my highlights from the works currently being exhibited.
Choi Jeong Hwa has also created a huge inflatable flower display in the foyer. Called Flower Chandelier, the flowers wilt and then burst in bloom with the help of air pumped and released into the fabric sacks.
Francis Upritchard has taken a collection of hockey sticks and turned them into toothy creatures in his work Jealous Saboteurs. The piece's title comes from a French song called "Crocodiles smiles and jealous saboteurs".
The Retroflex sculpture by Derrick Cherrie combines a fleshy colour with handrails and a plughole, making me feel a bit uneasy. Cherrie says, "Not only are my works offered as things for the body to get onto and into, in some ways they resemble the body itself, or its parts."
Some exhibitions are mounted up near the ceiling in the main galleries. Judy Darragh's Laser Bloom is like a toxic growth, multiplying in the corner and spreading across eight metres of wall-space.
When Richard Killeen sent Monkey's Revenge to the art gallery for exhibition, it came with the instructions: "Hang in any order." Killeen's work takes two-dimensional painting into a three-dimensional composition, and the theme of this piece is a juxtaposition of evolutionary ideas with industrial advances.
Ralph Hotere was originally commissioned to create Godwit/Kuaka for display in the Auckland Airport's arrivals hall.
The colours on Gretchen Albrecht's Golden Cloud captivate me. I love this watercolour sketch she's made of a sunset on the west coast of Auckland.
Don Driver assembled McKechnie Brothers' Mural with offcuts from the McKechnie Brothers' aluminium plant. I think this is a great example of working with found objects to create exciting art and is something that children could be encouraged to do (once they're beyond the macaroni collage stage).
This painting reminds me of the work of M. C. Escher. Unimaginatively titled "Painting No. 1", Gordon Walters combines Polynesian art motifs with European modernism.
The Auckland Art Gallery is a beautiful space in and of itself. It backs onto Albert Park and large, glass panes let in the natural light.
Russell Clark's painting Otaki Maori Meeting reminds me of Norman Rockwell's style. His inclusion of humour and pleasure, along with natural positioning was distinctive among New Zealand artists of the fifties.
The pohutukawa tree is a New Zealand icon, and Edward Fristrom's painting from 1903 captures both its gnarly trunk and the brilliant scarlet blossoms that make it so distinctive in summertime.
Rita Angus gave this portrait to the Curnow family as a grateful gesture for their hospitality over the several years. Betty Curnow recalls being painted by Rita Angus: "We talked about it before she began it and while she was working on it. The photo of my father and the Pieter Buegel print I wanted included because they were important to me as far as my own interest in art was concerned."
In another style to the portrait above, Robert Field's portrait of his sister-in-law (Mrs Jean O'Connor) was considered radical and modern in the 1930s because of its broad brush-strokes and bright colours.
I've lost the details of this artist and gorgeous painting, but it's part of the Modern Maori movement from the late 1950s which combined Maori thought with European art-making traditions.
Colin McCahon is one of New Zealand's best-known painters, and he was also one of the first artists worldwide to use text in painting. In May His Light Shine, McCahon refers to the "kumara" — a locally produced sweet potato/yam that is a staple in the local diet.
Richard Maloy's photograph is considered to be pseudo-portraiture. His work Raw Material #2 contains a photograph of a butter sculpture where Maloy started with the amount of butter equal to his own body mass and the form the butter takes contains imprints of his fingers and hands. This is a really interesting idea to me — playing with butter? yes please! — and I am further intrigued by the artist's mind who generates such a concept for portraiture in the first place.
Richard Hamilton's screenprint I'm dreaming of a black Christmas connects with me — mostly because of its base image from White Christmas featuring Bing Crosby and my own association with people I love who love this film.
American artist Jim Dine often uses the theme of metamorphosis in his works. In this series of sculptures, a plant becomes a fan.
I giggle when I look at this photo of a bald man examining Ashley Bickerton's The Five Sages. Perhaps he is imagining what it would feel like to start sprouting blossoms from his scalp!
In Daniel von Sturmer's work Painted Video, paint is hypnotically poured into expanding concentric circles. A deceptively simple idea, perhaps this is less a work in media and more of an evolving painting.
A gallery attendant stands outside Luc Peire's Environment III and invites us to go in.
The inside of the structure is a box with mirrored floors and ceilings, and vertical stripes on the walls.
Participants are encouraged to stand in the four corners to get the full effect of the mirrors.
If you were inclined to vertigo, you may want to give this installation a miss because the mirrors create a feeling of being at the top of a great height.
As well as being surrounded by visual effects, a changing sound of notes rising and falling adds to the idea of vertical movement.
Venezuelan artist Jesus Raphael Soto's Blue, Black and Red Triptych explores the illusion of movement by suspending a delicate framework of nylon filaments in front of a painting of black and white lines.
From the side, the cause of the illusion is clear, but from the front, the work is an ever-shifting image, causing my eyes to water with the effort of staying focused.
American Alan Sonfist has created Crystal Enclosure as a metaphor for Earth's ecosystem. In this work, natural mineral crystals convert to a gas and then recrystallise according to fluctuations in temperature and light.
The Gisborne Triptych is one of my favourite works in the gallery. In 1968 and 1969, Mark Boyle and Joan Hills invited friends to throw darts at a wall-sized map of the world while blindfolded. Boyle and Hills then attempted to visit as many of these sites as possible, reaching over 1000 dart-selected locations. Once there, they made what they described as "earthprobes", using a mixture of actual surface matter and resin casting. This work was made in 1990 at a site in Gisborne, New Zealand, and is fabricated from painted fibreglass.
Louis John Steele's 1894 painting Tattooing in Olden Time evokes a pre-European Maori past and reconstructs a tattooing procedure in process.
James Smetham painted The New Zealand Chiefs in Wesley's House when a group of Maori travelled to London in 1863.
Containing an unborn child in the abdomen and with truncated arms an inadequate form of protection, in 1913-6, Jacob Epstein created Torso in Metal from the "Rock Drill" to communicate his pessimism about the future of the human race in the machine age.
Auguste Renoir created this pretty lithograph entitled Le Chapeau Épinglé in 1898.
Now that I'm introduced to the Australian artist Ethel Spowers, she's one of my favourites. Her retro style, geometry, colours and subject matter such as in 1933's The Giant Stride all draw me to her work.
Ethel Spower's 1932 linocut Swings was critically acclaimed when it was first released: "Frankly modernist in her outlook, and using colour solely for brilliant effects and not at all with the idea of reproducing the colours of actual objects as seen by normal eyes, Miss Spowers nevertheless displays bold and accurate draughtsmanship in her most daring flight of fancy, allied with wonderful strenuous action ... The figures are drawn with modernist freedom, but the drawing is always expressive."
In a subject matter close to my [literal] heart, Harold Gilman painted his wife Sylvia feeding their son John in his 1918 painting Mother and Child.
I was surprised when I saw who the very-famous artist of this sketch entitled Tête de Femme is. Can you guess?
Perhaps it would help if I told you the artist of the sketch above also did this painting called Verre et Pichet. Can you guess now?
Local artist Alicia Frankovich created Orpheus to signify the booby-trapped doorway to the underworld.
Daniel Malone's installation Black Market Next to My Name consists of not only the entire contents of the artist's flat at the time of its original exhibition, but also his entire artistic record — more than ten years of accumulation.
Black Market Next to My Name is divided into five themed rooms or sets which theatrically illustrate different domestic living areas and aspects of a personality, becoming a narrative of identity.
Malone comments about his work, "It can be seen as a time capsule and a self-portrait, but it is also a narrative, an assemblage, a mirage of truth."
Nick Austin's sculpture The Postie reminds me that the impossible can be art.
Lifting My Mother For as Long as I Can is displayed in a series of six television screens arranged horizontally. Since 2006, Campbell Patterson has made a short video performance every year on his mother's birthday in which he documents himself lifting her for as long as possible. This ritual always takes place in front of the same floral curtains in Patterson's parents' home — curtains they were obliged to take with them when they recently moved house. Through repetitive acts and the very banality of their subject matter, Patterson's works become raw and intimate.
My favourite installations are the red flowers out the front of the gallery, the mirrored vertigo-inducing box which we entered, the Gisborne Triptych — where three pieces of the road were replicated and hung on the wall and the videos where the artist holds his mother for as long as he can.
What are your favourites?
If you enjoyed my tour of the Auckland Art Gallery, perhaps you’d like to see some of the other arty-farty tours we’ve had during our travels.