A Slow Take and some discombobulation

Slipped monochrome #2, 2017
acrylic (Oxymoron) on wall
5720 × 2940mm

Very modern, 2017
acrylic on wooden panel
1180 × 1180mm



Since returning to Wellington from my adventures at Te Tuhi, life has been busy. No chance of post show blues as I’ve been juggling various elements of my different work lives. A day here, half a day there, all while getting ready to go overseas. I’ve been feeling a little discombobulated.

That said, one of the many things I really enjoyed about being in Auckland was the breaking of my usual routine. It’s all too easy to operate on automatic, acting without thought. Simple things from waking up, eating breakfast and starting the day were, out of necessity, quite different in Auckland. Since my return to Wellington I’ve been very reluctant to give up the space and opportunity provided by such changes of routine. I’m not entirely sure why this is though suspect it’s to do with the potential for change, for improvement of some sort and the possibility of something new.

Carrying this questioning of routine over to the studio and my practice, there’s the opportunity for curiosity – What’s become a habit? What would be interesting to shake up? What if I stopped doing that? What if I did it this way instead?

Meanwhile in the studio (on the table) are two neglected wooden panels waiting to be sealed and gessoed. I’m uncertain as to how to handle these – I know I want more small coloured squares on them but I’ve yet to make a decision about the edges. Are these works going to be all about the front surface, in which case I’ll leave the edges raw, or are they going to become something else, painting-objects of a sort with gessoed and painted edges.

I’ve no answers to any of these questions yet. Instead I’m trying to leave some space to see what may happen, to explore a little. Nothing feels fixed for the moment, instead it all has potential – and that’s rather interesting.

At the opening

One from the opening of my exhibition A Slow Take.

What I particularly like about this image is the sense of scale you get, all thanks to the couple looking at the work. You also get an understanding of how the painting-object sits in the gallery.

Looking up to the ceiling you can see the architectural detail the work was made in response to, the painting being twice the actual size of the ceiling vent. On the lighting rack is the single spotlight illuminating the work and making the colours really ping.

The slipped monochrome work is hidden around the corner to the right and, due to the lighting, gives a feint blue reflection on the wall on the left.

Openings, conversations and carrying question marks

As some of you may know, I’m not the most extrovert of artists and sometimes struggle with exhibition openings. They’re strange things where people mainly come to socialise, the work acting as a backdrop for conversation. It’s not that people aren’t interested in the work, many will come back to the gallery on a quieter day, but exhibition openings are social events first and foremost. And that’s ok.

I’ve learnt if I can have a couple of interesting conversations with people then it’s a win for me. Better to have a good connection with two people than fleeting connections with many.

And on Saturday good conversations I had.

Observations from others included the monochrome’s screen like nature (not only it’s form and colour – the notion of a green screen in film and tv – but also it’s reflected light), the sensitive way I’d used the space, the reference to Richter’s colour paintings and the “fake frame” of the painting.

After the opening we got our dinner from the bustling night market, returning to the gallery, café tables in a long row, to eat and chat.

I got to hear how one person experienced the work very differently to how I imagined people work – her being drawn in first by the expanse of the blue wall rather than the small tile like squares of the painting-object. She was also looking for the covered plug socket we’d used as the image for the literature which was an outcome I hadn’t considered.

Chatting with another artist, he spoke of how artists often work while carrying many question marks. This poetic image resonated with me – carrying question marks – the not knowing of all the answers which, providing the weight of the unknown isn’t too much to bare, keeps the work alive.

So, all in all a good night. And I realise one way for me to get better at openings is to have more of them…


The tape is off…

…and all is mostly ok. In fact it’s pretty good with only a handful of tiny retouches needed. One is high in the corner of course, high enough to need the taller stepladder.

Complete, the slipped monochrome is looking sharp as the thunder rumbles away outside. In the courtyard Yona Lee’s shower heads somehow make more sense in the rain, the chrome tubing all splattered with rain drops.

Back in the gallery, my painting, Very modern leans against the wall, sitting on bubble wrap, corners still wrapped in tissue paper. A pixelated grid. Content free.

I’m still getting used to the scale relationship between the painting and the wall work. In my head the original idea of an actual size painting persists and needs replacing with the reality of the twice actual size work I’ve made.

It’s been interesting watching my confidence levels fluctuate during this install, today (Tuesday) particularly. Moments of doubt about the work in the space, the wall work in particular: Is it good enough? Is it any good at all? What the hell was I thinking?

Late in the afternoon we work on the lighting. Going for an all over flat spread of light, three lights hanging down from the lighting track obstruct the top edge of the slipped monochrome. They’ll go, but only after some fiddling around.

With no light shining directly on the slipped monochrome it’s much flatter. It works well. Reflected blue light hits the adjacent walls. A spotlight on the painting lifts the colours. However, despite our efforts, the overall balance of the room isn’t quite there. It’s almost 5pm - this is a job for Wednesday afternoon.

Nicola Farquhar – Folded Eyes at Hopkinson Mossman

Doing my regular gallery sweep along the K Road I come across an intense little show of Nicola Farquhar portraits at Hopkinson Mossman. And I’m not using the word little in a pejorative way.

Up the stairs, through the doorway into the large light filled gallery and I’m confronted by a much smaller space. Ten brightly coloured works hang in the confined space, and with their garish colours and brash marks they make for an abrupt visual assault.

Looking from work to work I know it takes my eyes a while to adjust, to grasp the pictorial space. I have to be patient. Studying the combinations of colour, texture and brushwork – like those magic-eye images from back in the day and Boom! – everything slots into place.

Nicola Farquhar Jute, 2017
Nicola Farquhar
Jute, 2017
oil on linen
500 x 500mm

In the work Jute, the green nose juts out, the purple triangle on the shoulder on my left pushes the face forward as the shoulder recedes. Thickly painted “roses” in the middle of the face transform from flatish blobs into a three dimensional spatial structure.

The other works begin to reveal their depths, some more than others. And yet I keep coming back to Jute. It is a great little painting and the image you see here, like those of many paintings, really doesn’t do the work justice.

A couple canvases have little blue triangles sitting on the top edge, one with a lozenge shape and others are framed with loose canvas offcuts. I can’t help but think of the works of Blinky Palermo.

I’ll go back to the gallery later this week to see how the works look on a different day, when I’m in a different mood. If you’re in Auckland and haven’t seen the show yet I recommend it.

You can find more images from the exhibition along with the press release over at the gallery’s website:

Nicola Farquhar, Folded Eyes Hopkinson Mossman 20 Oct - 18 Nov 2017

All images from Hopkinson Mossman website.