Recent paintings, Michael Hight (Milford Galleries)
Michael Hight returns to Milford this fall with another complementary offering of his beehive and nocturnal paintings. Long a staple subject of his practice, Hight is exhibiting several new beehive paintings alongside works from 2020 and 2021. As viewers familiar with Hight’s work know, the artist paints hyperrealistic scenes with a collection of beehives rustic in a foreground typically covered with tufts. and mountain ranges in the background. Despite Hight’s hyperrealistic style, beehives serve to a lesser extent as formalistic blocks or geometric shapes.
If the beehive functions as a structural motif in this series of paintings, so does the compartmentalized storage of the artist’s nocturnal paintings. The structure of the shelves allows Hight to reconcile hyperrealism and surreal accents. When it comes to the former, Hight maintains its hyper-realistic style, while the shelving partitions manage to pull together disparate objects and artifacts despite their apparent isolation. That is, partitions intentionally effect separation and connection.
Typically, Hight incorporates bone fragments, remnants of small metal objects, miniaturized landscapes, earthenware, small carvings, and quills singularly into brightly lit open-faced shelf compartments with deep shaded nooks. . As with the beehive paintings, Hight has included nocturnal paintings from the past three years inclusive. The most significant difference between the 2022 paintings and previous ones are the deep black hollows of the shelf cavities. While the typology of the artifact maintains its continuity, the black interiors are noticeably darker.
Okuru (2022) is one of four paintings that enlarges a plausible scene of an invisible nocturnal.
The Fall, Christopher Ulutupu (DPAG)
The fall is a cinematic diptych; a large immersive two-channel cinematic work by Christopher Ulutupu (Samoa/Niue/Germany). Produced in collaboration with his partner, whanau, and friends, The fall depicts a mostly utopian imagination of life after the demise of interconnected systems and events, including capitalism, the global pandemic, and a reduced human population. The title also alludes to the religious end times which the film corroborates with two siblings/characters wearing angel wings. But this adornment also refers to the autobiographies of Janet Frame and the film by Jane Campion An angel at my table (1990). Ulutupu, who was the guest artist at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2022, has filmed extensively in and around Otago and Te Waipounamu, and a shot of a young woman on a gravel road is a wink. look at a comparable scene in Campion’s film. Other regional locations will be familiar to residents of Otepoti and Central Otago.
Consisting of 14 pairs of extended sequential vignettes (with odd deviation), Ulutupu primarily juxtaposes disparate scenes with recurring themes, actions, and motifs. Typically, an alternate screen provides the audio component for each of the approximately 14 vignettes of the diptych. For example, in a juxtaposition, a young woman sings you needed me (by Anne Murray, 1978) in a mic stand in the low tides of Karitane on the right channel as a man carves a stick with a machete while a young woman sleeps on a mattress outside on the left channel. Family, song, and caring for each other characterize Ulutupu’s version of the consequences.
On the table, Nick Austin (DPAG)
Nick Austin is one of five artists who have been asked to organize a section of On the Table: Artists from the Jim Barr and Mary Barr Collection. The (overall) title of the exhibition refers to a gallery run by the two collectors (Jim and Mary Barr), who have loaned a significant number of works from their personal collection to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. As far as the Barr collection is concerned, Austin has centered his exhibition on two artists who are also partners: Julian Dashper and Marie Shannon. Whether or not this partnership initiated Austin’s thematic concerns about domestic life, the home, exterior and interior architecture, and the portals between life inside and beyond the home, it nonetheless provides a line helpful guide.
Given Austin’s practice as a painter, it is interesting to note the high prevalence of photographers in this exhibit, especially those specializing in black and white photography, such as Peter Peryer, and the lesser-known photographer Minerva Betts . Perhaps with a recognition of traditional gender roles, particularly in the 1970s when Peryer and Betts were active, Peryer’s works concern architectural exteriors such as hotels, while those of Betts and Shannon concern domestic interiors.
As one of the portals or modes of communication between home and the hereafter and a clear reference to Austin’s own postcard paintings, Austin includes two postcard works by Patrick Pound. Serving as the centerpiece of the L-shaped gallery space, Pound’s Messages from other peoples (1992) are exhibited as on a domestic fireplace in the variously expressed materializations of the Austin home.
By Robyn Maree Pickens