Wednesday 7 April 2010

Drawing conclusions

Sometimes it's nice just to go see a simple, solid show. Drawing Conclusions at the Dowse is one of these - significant works from the collection by Hotere, Peebles, McCahon and Walters are paired with preparatory and related works.

I'm a bit of a sucker for these before-and-after exhibitions, and the 1947 McCahon painting of a Hutt Valley landscape The caterpillar landscape is a good example of this (I'm too damn scared to use images from that website, so go have a look for yourself). A related work shows a land/sea-scape hovering in a lozenge above the caterpillar hills; in the oil the lozenge is whited out in thick pigment, making you want to grab an x-ray machine and see what went wrong under there.

The oil was gifted by McCahon in 1980; it had been shown in 1948 at the Wellington City Public Library in an exhibition organised by Ron O'Reilly. The accompanying watercolours were donated in 2000 by Nan Stubbs, a colleague of O'Reilly's at the Library: she purchased them from another late 1940s show at the Lower Hutt Municipal Library.

The show as a whole has a double purpose. On the face of it, it's a show about how artists work. On a more pervasive level, it's a show about how public collections grow over the years, nurtured by relationships between staff, artists and patrons. The wall labels avoid hammering this message home, but the story's there if you're looking for it.

On the same day I saw the rather wonderful architecture show Long Live The Modern, toured by the Gus Fisher Gallery, but it's since closed. I can't find out if it's touring further, but if it pops up in your neck of the woods, go see it.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

My memory is fuzzy, but on the Modern bus tour, someone mentioned that Long Live the Modern would be next moving to Dunedin, complete with a bus tour of Modern Dunedin buildings. Possibly in May?