Can I just say, I am totally stoked for Shane Cotton. As Overthenet noted, it's been a while coming, but seeing him recognised at last night's Laureate Awards was fantastic.
Normally, sitting through an hour and a half of speeches wouldn't be my idea of a great night out. But I have a soft spot for the Laureate Awards. As well as simply approving of the concept, the aspect of the awards I really enjoy is the tremendous goodwill in the air. Sitting amongst hundreds of people, watching the interview shtick, you can feel the crowd's happiness about what's happening just rolling down the auditorium towards the new laureates.
I wrote not long ago about watching the changes in Cotton's paintings. The slideshow that rolled during his citation last night prompted me to think about this even harder. Looking back at works from the late 1990s you have the sense of ideas, imagery, symbols and language being carefully researched, considered and assembled, creating a work that made the (Pakeha, most likely) viewer work equally hard to unravel all the potential meaning layered into the painting.
In retrospect, the big diptychs in the 2003 survey show point forward to the current works, which have all these elements, and I bet the same approach to working out the painting, but also this sense of freedom and a different kind of mystery that I really love. I don't want to reach for my reference books so that I can "understand what they're about" - I want to stand back and let them work on me. And the best of these works do just that - they're like forcefields, they hold you in their orbit,* and you feel at once helpless and uplifted and entranced. Or at least, I do.
So, yeah. I'm stoked for Shane Cotton, I think it's a travesty he hasn't been nominated for the Walters yet, and I want a last-10-years show soon.
*Apparently, they also make you mix your metaphors, but I know you'll understand what I'm getting at