I finally got around to seeing Peata Larkin’s exhibition Towards the Light. Curated by Kara Wallace at Corban Estate Arts Centre in Henderson, it finished last Sunday the 27th before I had a chance to post. I try to view and write about exhibitions before they conclude, to allow readers the opportunity to see the works for themselves. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out – there is not enough time!
But I wanted to write about Larkin anyway, as her art is fascinating, lusciously tactile and sublime. I greatly enjoyed listening to her discuss her process and work during her artist talk. I hope it will capture your interest and inspire you to see her artworks the next time she exhibits 🙂
What instantly drew me to Larkin’s works was her technique. Using a mesh grid, she pushes acrylic paint from the back to form patterns. This colourful paint bursts through the grid’s holes, like bubbles flooding to the surface. This gifts the paint with a three-dimensional sculptural quality, they are thick enough to cast their own shadows, and the orderly, controlled matrix is challenged by the unpredictability of paint spreading and sprawling. There are echoes of Georges Seurat and Pointillism in Larkin’s style. Not only does her work look sensational up close and at a distance, but who doesn’t love the idea of squishing stuff through a sieve?
Larkin is represented by Two Rooms Gallery in Auckland, please check out their website for some great close ups of her works:
There is a strong sense of storytelling in Larkin’s oeuvre – she communicates through these viscous baubles of paint. Individually they resemble DNA, pixels, binary code; they can be seen as containers of information, ancestors on a family tree. In their entirety, her works draw influence from Māori tukutuku panelling patterns, such as patikitiki (diamond/flounder fish pattern) and poutama (stepped/stairway to heaven pattern). Larkin is reflecting on her own lineage (Tuhourangi, Tuwharetoa and Ngati Whakaue) as well as the way that we visually disseminate knowledge and history through pattern.
Towards the Light featured a mix of Larkin’s new and old works, all of which examine her interest in light. For instance Patikitiki 6 (X Factor) (2007, acrylic, mesh, fluorescent lights, lightbox, private collection) was her Master’s thesis and is actually mounted onto a lightbox. Along with her other lightbox work, Starry Starry Night (2010, acrylic, mesh, flexiface, LEDs in lightbox, Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland) they appear lit from within, humming with their own life force. These are in contrast with her new Wahine series (8 works, 2014, acrylic on mesh on canvas, Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland) where the natural light from the room illuminates them – four of these works are placed in the window sill, filtering the light and casting shadows to fabulous effect. I particularly loved her Wahine artworks: each represent a woman left behind when the Māori battalion fought in Italy during World War II. The colours in one work were drawn from the colours of a medal awarded to the soldier.
Larkin bridges a number of interesting dichotomies in her works: the two dimensional and three dimensional, the controlled nature of the grid and the spontaneous plasticity of paint, artificial and real light, close up and distance, and tradition and technology. I enjoy the process of viewing her art, of marvelling at the beads of paint at a close proximity and allowing the eye to reconcile the magnetising pattern from afar.
I look forward to her next exhibition!