Review

Fatu Feu’u –The Village

What a gloriously sunny weekend we are having.  Summer is almost here!  I recently dropped into the first gallery I wrote about nearly two years ago when I started this blog, and I know I say it often but time really does fly by 🙂  As the art world is forever on the go, the Warwick Henderson Gallery has hopped over a neighbourhood and relocated to Newmarket.

Currently on display are paintings by the well-known and prominent contemporary artist, Fatu Feu’u.  This exhibition is called The Village, and each painting draws thematically on this, with titles such as Kumara Patch (2015) and Le Lagoon (2015).  Feu’u regularly journeys back to his village of Poutasi, Samoa, and he is regarded as a leader and elder in society.  These works emphasise the importance of family, community and culture, particularly in the wake of the 2009 tsunami.

Even with the knowledge that these were new works by Feu’u, I still found his paintings surprising and unexpected.  They were far more abstract than I anticipated; the motifs I most associate with Feu’u’s oeuvre, such as the frangipani and tribal mask, have been replaced with sketchy, energetic images drawn from ancient Lapita pottery and other prehistoric Pacific sources.

Incredibly gestural and intensely coloured with an earthy palette, the focus appears to be on mark making – the art of suggesting forms with a myriad of strokes and splashes from a paintbrush.  Somewhat resembling cave drawings as well as the paper cut out works by Henri Matisse, these paintings exhibit a sense of joie de vivre and togetherness, which is particularly demonstrated by the bopping figures in Lolita Come Play (2015) and Lolita Come Dance (2015).  The loose, almost instinctive brushwork adds to this impression of movement, as if they are abuzz with activity.

With the repetition of patterns throughout The Village, this series can be read in its entirety.  Each painting is like a cornerstone of a village, individually accentuating their significance to the community and culture as a whole.  That is at the heart of Feu’u’s paintings, and though some viewers may not find these as immediately iconic as his earlier works, the message is still essential and needing to be articulated.  Continuously evolving, I am excited to see where this direction will lead Fatu Feu’u next.

Fatu Feu’u –The Village is on until Sunday 11th October 2015 at Warwick Henderson Gallery, Newmarket.

For further info on the exhibition, please see the website:

http://www.warwickhenderson.co.nz/

And a great resource is Cultural Icons, where you can hear Fatu Feu’u discuss his life and work in episode #74:

http://culturalicons.co.nz/episode/fatu-feuu

Until next time!

M.

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Review

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:

http://artweekauckland.co.nz/

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:

http://www.warwickhenderson.co.nz/exhibition/morph/

http://estudio.co.nz/amy-melchior/

Enjoy Art Week!

M.

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