Wednesday 20 July 2011

King of paintings

Hamish McKay is currently showing Julian Dashper's masterful Regent (on resale) alongside a little group of smaller velvet paintings selected from private collections.

It is an utterly fantastic painting. Energetic, almost greedy, it latches on to your eyes and propels them around it surface, over clownishly thick lines and sublime golden dribbles and scaley white patches and turquoise lakes.

Dashper famously observed of these works that

they were all made by holding the tube and squeezing it. So I never touched or embraced the painting. I could have made them wearing three piece suits. They were like lies in terms of artistic expression or angst.

As such, they're often taken as conceptual paintings. Dashper disowned the word 'conceptual' as it was applied to him - all art, he argued, was conceptual. And you can't help but feel, as your eye travels over Regent, that there's a joy in colour and texture and gesture, and that while Dashper might have been faking it, he was feeling it too.

I've always loved Dashper's words as much as his works. The show at Hamish McKay's coincides with the publication of Julian Dashper: This is not writing, a collection of essays, interviews, artists statements and other texts. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

NB: For those of you who tune in, I'll be talking about Dashper's work, with a focus on Regent, on Radio New Zealand national at about 11.45am today.

Julian Dashper, Regent, 1986. Oil on velvet 1370 mm x 2140 mm. Image from the Hamish McKay Gallery website

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