Head to Gow Langsford Gallery tonight for the opening of three major new shows.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Earlier in the year Art Basel Hong Kong was cancelled amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus. Having worked on the presentation for many months it has been reconceptualised and a version will be shown at our Lorne St Gallery for two weeks before we close to prepare for Bernar Venet's performance on 25 March.

Selected for the Kabinett sector our planned presentation for Hong Kong included a designated focus on prominent painter Judy Millar. Together with her solo presentation of recent works, was a group of works by Oceanic artists including Colin McCahon (NZ, 1919-1987), Dale Frank (AU, b. 1959), John Pule (Niue, b.1962) and Lisa Roet (AU, b. 1967). While Millar's body of work will be shown at another date this exhibition is based around works that would have otherwise been shown at Art Basel Hong Kong this month.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

The narrative of abstraction in western painting is one of linear progression. We are taught that abstraction unfolded neatly: from Braque’s pixelated landscapes via Kandinsky’s colour explosions to Mondrian’s grids, we arrived at abstraction proper. But if total abstraction was achieved with Malevich’s Black Square in 1915, how then does painting continue along this linear trajectory more than 100 years later? For two Berlin-based contemporary artists Bernard Frize and Imi Knoebel, the answer lies in subverting progress itself. Detours brings together works by these artists to present an argument for divergent timelines.

Berlin-based French painter Bernard Frize paints in an unambiguous linear sequence but surrenders action to his materials. Although still working with the traditional materials of brush and canvas, Frize aims to create a ‘small mechanism, an engine that runs by itself’ in order to explore the variations possible within the formal properties of colour and line. In this algorithmic mode, colours are allowed their own agency to bleed into each other, eschewing the painter’s authorial voice. For the 2015 series that included Suret, Frize mixed resin with thin acrylics before applying them simultaneously across the canvas. The resulting painting is paradoxical, both organic and synthetic.

Progression also drives the desire to produce something novel. In an interview with Imi Knoebel, the German artist recalls grappling with the stultifying pressure of the ‘Fetish of the New’. As a young artist at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Knoebel felt as if everything had been done before. “What’s left?” he asked. “If you want to do something, to stay alive, you have to think of something at least as radical.” He discovered that looking back to Malevich allowed him to navigate new avenues into the future, and in doing so carved out a distinctive mode of hybrid sculpture-painting. In the series Faces, different coloured strips of acrylic film are woven into grids. These both interfere with the medium-support relationship and investigate the possible variations available within a limited set of rules. As the viewer, we can’t help but recognise ourselves in this work; like the human face, each 75mm grid in Faces has the same basic structure – eyes, nose, mouth – but each is infinitely unique.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

The works of Allen Maddox have an undeniable cohesion through the use of the cross motif; a symbol that became synonymous with his practice. Electric Thought Patterns, an exhibition of previously unseen works, displays how Maddox was able to use the seemingly restrictive formal vocabulary of the cross and grid and meld two affinities of formalist expressionism: one, the controlled, often aggressive gesture (straight, intersecting lines); the other, a free and organic movement of paint. The works exhibited are a cross-section of his career from the 1970s to the late 1990s; each work rich with colour, texture and emotion.

Gow Langsford Gallery | Lorne Street and Kitchener Street Spaces

  • 26 Lorne Street | Corner Kitchener and Wellesley Streets
  • Auckland, 1010