Bringing together outstanding contemporary art from across the Pacific region, Aotearoa Art Fair—formerly known as Auckland Art Fair—returns this year with a roster of galleries from New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.
Highlights include Christina Pataialii's soft coloured landscapes at McLeavey Gallery, Guido Maestri's richly textured sculptures at Yavuz Gallery and an intensely gestural oil and acrylic painting by Judy Millar at Gow Langsford Gallery. We''ve selected our favourite works from the fair below.
Forever in a state of metamorphosis, Oliver Perkins' paintings toy with the eye as they reveal and conceal the mechanics of their production. The selection of works on show with Michael Lett and Fine Arts, Sydney are no different—both architectural in scale and in the geometric criss-cross of cotton rope that intersects the canvas.
Untitled (2022) harkens back to the visual language of the Abstract Expressionists, drawing the viewer into a burnt rust-coloured haze. Common to Perkins' recent practice is the intervention of the rope, emphasising the constant action in their creation rather than an inert finished product. Upon closer inspection, further secrets of the artist's machinations are revealed. The layers of ink on rabbit skin glue give way to lighter layers of umber, adding further depth to the imagined foreground and background of canvas.
Perkins' large-scale work, FREE-RANGE is currently on view at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand.
Christina Pataialii at McLeavey Gallery
Nostalgic hues of salmon pink and green frame Christina Pataialii's Yonder (2022), which depicts a scene of domestic tranquility that is at once timeless and atemporal.
For the artist, colour and formal experimentation are a means of exploring memory, allowing for interpretations that are open-ended, yet highly personal.
Suggestions of a table and chair draw the eye into the great 'yonder', comprised of abstracted landscape motifs typical of Pataialii's practice. Where we usually find rugby posts and picket fences, however, there is a flattened orb and amorphous trees in acrylic, contrasted with dynamic brushstroke in the foreground and furniture. These energetic strokes, formed from house paint, create a push and pull between depth and flatness and tie to the artist's personal history, growing up on job sites with her father who worked as a house painter.
Since her large-scale wall mural at the Aotearoa Art Fair in 2018, Pataialli returns with an impressive resume of solo exhibitions and a residency at Gasworks, London. She was the recipient of the inaugural Rydal Prize in 2019 and participated in Triennials at QAGOMA and the New Museum.
Sydney and Singapore-based Yavuz Gallery brings a selection of Archibald Prize-winning Guido Maestri's paintings and sculpture.
Maestri is better known for his texturally rich, expressively painted, plein air Australian landscape paintings. Yavuz presents several recent specimens such as When You Lived (2022), and Birth of Earth (2022). Begun outdoors, and transformed into colourful mystical worlds in the artist's studio, the artist describes them as deep fake landscapes—composites of countryside the artist visited and the palette and surreal imagery of The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek (1973) an Australian children's book.
August's Other (2022) epitomises Maestri's painterly approach to sculpture. The all-over light blue composition could easily be mistaken for a bust roughly moulded from clay. A richly textured surface conceals the painted bronze work's true materiality.
This time depicting the artist's son, Maestri has previously presented pastel-coloured re-imaginings of classical busts of famous figures, from Pope Innocent II to Miracle Mike the headless chicken.
Judy Millar at Gow Langsford Gallery
Gow Langsford Gallery presents a new painting by Judy Millar for their 2022 presentation at Aotearoa Art Fair.
An exploration of the dynamics between painting and body is central to Judy Millar's practice. In Twilight (2022), Millar depicts swirls of charcoal in broad strokes that adorn a backdrop of soft pink and blue hues. Her instinctive brush strokes imprint marks that scrape and wipe the surface of the canvas, giving the painting a depth of movement.
The New Zealand-born artist's vigorous mark-making signals her deeply physical process of painting. In conversation with Ocula Magazine in 2016, Millar remarked, 'I am trying to build a dome-like space above the canvas. I am in space; my movements are in space. So the painting is really about creating a form of space'.
Gow Langsford Gallery will display Millar's painting alongside work by Neo-Conceptualist painter Peter Halley.
Millar has represented New Zealand twice at the Venice Biennale, the first in 2009, and the second at a collateral exhibition entitled TIME, SPACE, EXISTENCE at the Palazzo Bembo in 2011.
Known for his colourful abstract paintings, Ian Scott's Cobalt Channel (1984) encapsulates the late artist's flair for painting planes of flat colour and sharp geometric patterns.
Heralded for his modern vision during the late 1960s, Scott used primary colours and minimal form to investigate the possibilities of abstract painting.
Robert Jahnke at Milford Galleries
A sea of infinite fluorescence greets visitors to the booth of Milford Galleries. ATA AMIO (2022) carries the typical hallmarks of a Robert Jahnke ONZM installation. Jahnke uses combinations of mirrors and custom-made coloured neon tubes to create patterns of light that seemingly repeat into a forever space.
A prominent figure in the field of contemporary Māori visual arts as a practitioner and educator, Jahnke's work featured in Auckland Art Gallery's expansive survey show Toi Tū Toi Ora (2020–2021). Metaphorical symbols of te Ao Māori (Māori culture) germinate throughout his artworks, such as the cross motif which evokes basic stitches and foundational patterns of traditional tukutuku (weaving).
In ATA AMIO one way mirrors, and horizontal neon roundels of alternating crosses and triangles, create a landscape with an infinite horizon. Viewers stepping before the work are transported themselves into this prism in what can be described as an 'instagrammable' moment, but is much more.
Main image: Christina Pataialii, Yonder (2022) (detail). Acrylic and house paint on drop sheet canvas. 90 x 100 cm. Courtesy the artist and McLeavey Gallery. Photo: Russell Kleyn.