For the first couple of months of this year I was pretty much pre-occupied
with working towards the opening, in early March, of Now Showing:
artists go to the movies. Although I do seem to remember the Dirty
Three and King Loser at Bar Bodega, a cool blue installation by Dion
Workman and a strange night at the Hole in the Wall. The Friday following
the Film Centre's opening of Now Showing, was the opening of Annie
Leibovitz, Photographs 1970 - 1994, at the City Gallery. This wasn't
a public opening but a vehicle for Saatchi and Saatchi's annual party.
However, with skill and means and a good friend I managed to obtain an
invite. Attending in borrowed shirt and tie, and through champagne's
soft focus I thought Leibovitz's 70s images looked best; Keith Richard
crashed out or Maria Schneider with a friend. By comparison the later
work seems a little self-conscious. The party continued into the night
at the nearby Boatshed with plenty of Leibovitz and movie moments, both
scheduled and spontaneous.
Saturday morning I found myself a part of John Nixon's experimental painting
workshop which involved shopping with Hamish McKay for a stretcher and canvas
to prepare for John to paint on and include in his show at Hamish's the following
Tuesday. John's work at the Hamish McKay Gallery featured his on-going experiment
with orange and was an adjunct for his major show, curated by Allan Smith, at
the City Gallery. This show which opened the following Sunday displayed a cross-section
of product from John's Experimental Painting and Object Workshop.
But the Friday before that, Dick Frizzell's exhibition, Portrait of a Serious
Artiste, opened at the City Gallery. This was a very popular opening with
the gallery packed. Unfortunately, I missed the speeches as I was in the bar
next door with my stylist. Dick's show, again curated by Allan Smith, was well
presented and it was good to see Frizzell's work given long overdue attention.
The catalogue, designed by Frizzell and Len Cheeseman from Saatchis, was a perfect
complement to Dick's work and hopefully an indication of the style of publications
to come. Sunday was the opening of John Nixon's exhibition and Allan Smith's
final farewell to the City Gallery. Allan is now helping out at the Jensen Gallery.
Amid all the happenings at the City Gallery were Michael Stevenson's nutty and
fantastic art trolleys displayed in the gallery foyer: unfortunately they seem
to have been generally overlooked.
Next up was Julian Dashper's mini-retrospective at the Hamish McKay Gallery.
There wasn t an opening for this exhibition but the following Saturday the artist
was present to give an entertaining floor talk about his work. Continuing his
collaborative and intellectual association with John Nixon, the following day
Julian also gave a floor talk about Nixon's work at the City Gallery. For this
occasion Julian was wearing a pair of John Nixon's jeans. I thought I should
mention this because Julian seemed concerned that he forgot to mention it during
his talk. Thankfully the significance of this detail escapes me.
Then a night of double openings - Terry Urbahn at the New Work Studio; Ronnie
van Hout and Isobel Thom at the Hamish McKay Gallery. Urbahn's Urban Museum
Reality Service displayed his usual post-punk flair with abandoned museum
cases re-worked to provide a witty critique on museum practice, Ronnie van Hout
presented a slice of work past, mysteriously unifying two of his seemingly disparate
themes, Nazis and aliens. While direct from New York, Isobel Thom's gravity-bound
paintings furthered her exploration of the depths of surface tension.
A couple of weeks later the Jensen Gallery pushed its borders with Paul Cullen's
pseudo-scientific installation mysteriously turning water back into water. In
the adjoining space Maddie Leach's 'Post-heaven', an installation featuring unplugged
speaker cabinets, presented a oddly silent set-piece. Perhaps this is what Beckett
had in mind when his characters finally stopped waiting for Godot.
Bill Culbert's Lightworks at the City Gallery provided a view onto this
expatriate's recent work as well as quietly revealing the subversive charm of
20 years of his photography. Last Saturday artworld luminaries Gregory Burke,
Simon Endres, and Seraphine Pick, along with dancer Lisa Densem celebrated conjunctive
birthdays at Jim Speer's Pirie Street studio. Projected images by Terence Handscomb
and feedback by Dion Workman gave it all an eery post-factory feel but, still
recovering from a recent trip to Christchurch, I had to leave early. Coming up...
Peter Robinson at Peter McLeavey in early June... Rita Angus fellow, Ani O'Neill,
sighted about town at all the best parties, will be showing at the City Gallery
in July...also at the City Gallery and worth looking out for, later in the year,
is Australian Pop-Abstractionist Dale Frank.