Amy Melchior’s Morph

Auckland’s Art Week is upon us!  Scattered around various galleries, art centres and artist-run spaces are exhibitions and tours showcasing New Zealand contemporary art.  I really wanted to go on one of the art collection tours through the buildings of PwC, ANZ & Chapman Tripp, etc. but found they were fully booked!  Alas till next year, and I hope that anyone who did secure a spot has a fantastic time 🙂  I have reviewed just a few of the offerings on display, do venture out and have a look!

Info on Auckland’s Art Week can be found here:

One exhibition I popped in to have a look at, was Amy Melchior’s Morph at the Warwick Henderson Gallery in Parnell.  Amy Melchior is a chef as well as an artist, and her artworks blend food and art – talk about a woman after my own heart.

The first thing I noticed was the smell: whiffs of honeyed beeswax effusing from her artworks, perfuming the air and tantalising the senses.  This scent is met with vivid colours such as raspberry red, forest green, baby pink to name a few, which convey a richness and depth, while still retaining an incandescent shine.  Some of Melchior’s works break the two dimensional mould, with protrusions that seem to emerge from already tactile surfaces.  Her artworks are a sensory splendour, allowing you to dip in and engage with what you smell, see, almost taste, and wish you could touch.

So how does Melchior create these works?  She paints in encaustic, which is where beeswax is heated, damar resin is added to help harden the wax, and then it is mixed with a variety of pure pigments to produce an assortment of colours.  Melchior applies it to board and fuses each layer with a heat gun, building up and scraping back some layers.  She sometimes etches minute details onto the surface, washes the work with ink to allow some to flow into the detail, before buffing the waxy surface to recapture its lustre.  In a couple of the artworks, she has gouged out bits of wax or cut up entire works, and added the pieces to the surface prior to painting over with more pigment.  When I heard that Melchior used encaustic, it immediately brought to mind American artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, who had also worked in the medium.  After perusing her works, they do display a similar boldness and density with their thickly layered surfaces, yet differ thematically.

Melchior is greatly interested in depth, and the encaustic process allows her to reveal and conceal, morphing shapes into indistinct forms.  She references the ocean’s depths, flora and food in Morph, and this is aided by most of her works being painted on circular shaped boards, like tondos that were popular in 15th Century Italy.  This shape made me think of oversized dinner plates sporting an abundance of culinary delights, as well as submarine portholes that unearth kaleidoscopic wonders.

I was amazed at the skill and beauty of her work, and I spent a fair amount of time devouring them with my eyes (does it look like sushi?  oysters?  sticky raspberry jam buns?) before giving into hunger.  On a side note about sushi, you gotta watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011).  It is a great film about an 85 year old sushi master who runs a tiny Michelin star sushi restaurant in a Tokyo subway station.  That film sent my friends and I on a late night sushi hunt after watching it.

Do check out Amy Melchior’s exhibition Morph which runs till Saturday 2nd November 2013 at the Warwick Henderson Gallery in Parnell.  But don’t visit on an empty stomach 😛

A link to Amy Melchior’s exhibition and her website are below:

Enjoy Art Week!