Theres an exhibition called Canterbury Painting in the 1990s on at the McDougall. (Like any other gallery would call a show that.) Its quite awful in a nicely consistent way. I mean, the name is so self-important, and so are most of the paintings. Its meant to be some kind of update from a major show they had about ten years ago, but comes across more like the hurried result of some minor catastrophe that meant another show had to be organised two weeks before its opening. Nearly all the paintings are big. Although I dont mind that in itself, it does make the artists come across like they had been struggling with the PROBLEM and finally have come up with the ANSWER.
This heroic-modernism look-at-me-Im-a-painting-and-Im-the-only-one-that-matters is kind of funny in a really embarrassing way. It makes the exhibition really busy and claustrophobic. Jonathan Smart also had a show with lots of works by different artists, including two fantastic Judy Darragh pieces. It was subtitled a salon of enticing possibilities, which I think was quite accurate. The equivalent for McDs show would be something like AN EARNEST EXHIBITION OF PAINTING SOLUTIONS. The macho assertiveness thing reaches its pinnacle with Neil Frazers overindulgent splatter fest Ruby Rose Black. Funnily enough I think thats why its my favourite work in the show, I dont think anyone could occupy that position seriously.
Apparently some art expert geezer on backch@t said that the High Street Project was where you go to see the stars of tomorrow. I missed that episode, but I did see the one when Chris Knox reviewed Being John Malkovich, and I want some of what hes on. The stars of tomorrow are doing pretty well. Dan Arps had a show called Fresh. Fresh out of art school? A breath of fresh air? That American fresh that my thesaurus doesnt even know yet? Now thats fresh. So, Arps bolted some chairs to the floor of the second room in an airport lounge type arrangement. If you sat down you could only really talk to the people sitting next to you, and there were only ten chairs. I was lucky enough to get one for a while and it did make me feel special. In the last room was a wooden handrail coming out from the wall on each side of the doorway and extending into the room creating a strange catwalk type thing. I think it had something to do with the art world, elitist in-crowds and special knowledge and stuff. It was reported to me that some charlatans managed to get on the otherside of the handrail, have they no respect?
At the High Street Liftspace Julaine Stephenson had Harpic/Brasso, a nice clean reference to Julia Morisons Excrement/Gold currently across town in McDs. Stephenson has copied Morisons format of two square canvasses right next to each other, but has scaled them right down. Perhaps in recognition that the cleaning products are more powerful materials than shit and gold, because you only need a little bit of Brasso to clean a lot of gold.
Sarah Minneys installation strung: Hickman vs. Grigg was in the Physics Room. On approaching the gallery, you could hear shoes squeaking on a floor and a ball being whacked by tennis racquets. This evocation of strenuous activity was totally shattered by the physical appearance of the work. The main Physics Room space was totally empty except for a speaker at each end and a CD player and amplifier halfway along the wall. There was something naughty about how minimal it was physically that I liked. John Fairclough had the other room for Total_World_View, an interactive digital work that you could actually play if you had the patience to work it out. I didnt but some people who told me about it did and loved it.
A new public art space called the kiosk has popped up in the redevelopments outside Java on High St. The brainchild of Julaine Stephenson, its a silver curvy space age looking brainchild thats just big enough to put a computer in, which is what Sean Kerr did. Unfortunately his work was malfunctioning one night and was making lots of noise, so some other kids decided to kick the shit out of it. Im glad to say that the kiosk has made a full recovery, and so has Sean Kerrs work.
To update the Billy "I dont like the picture rails in CoCA" Apple saga, the offending rails have been painted white again. I gather that means that Billy Apple is not going to show at CoCA again, so we can wait with Bated breath again to see whether he now holds his side of the bargain.
STOP PRESS - Theres a Tibetan carpet sale upstairs at CoCA. Carpets may be collected on July 16th from noon. Until then they are art. CoCA is open from 12-4 on Sundays. Everything we do is art. Theres an advert for Trade Aid upstairs at CoCA. Its called The Mystical Stories of Tibetan Carpets, and its made up of carpets. There are three Trade Aid shops in Christchurch and theyre all closed on Sundays. Sometimes carpets should be hung on walls.
Lee Devenish was born in the 70s, and it shows. Once upon a time he probably liked Kylie Minogues music. Recently Kylie said "I faced myself in the mirror, shook hands with myself, and said, Youre OK. You embarrass me sometimes, but youre cool. That was a big moment for me - one that's allowed me to move forward and feel really good about my past." Now if Lee could just figure out how to shake hands with himself