We are delighted to re-present Hamish Coleman's first solo exhibition in a public gallery - a milestone event in any artist's career. On Returning has come to Wellington from its recent showing at the Ashburton Art Gallery.
On Returning explores the interface of the actual and the remembered, blending the genres of landscape and portraiture as Coleman revisits, and records on video, the environment where he grew up. In an interview with his partner the artist Emily Hartley-Skudder, published in the Art Paper in May, Coleman described his pleasure in the process:
There's a certain thrill in capturing a split-second image from a film and spending weeks or months rendering it in paint. I call these screen captures 'non-images', and they are what I'm searching for. It's as if the figure, land and trees were caught off guard, or as if I were a second too slow in capturing a posed scene found through a conventional photograph.
The result - a sense of the elusive, the fleeting moment - is reinforced by other processes employed by the artist. His signature use of iridescent oil paint (which changes hue in response to viewing angle) plays with strange croppings, scale distortions and figures on edges looking in, looking back and also out at us. What is evoked all at once is the literary trope of the solitary figure in the landscape, the gothic underbelly of small town New Zealand and a complex nostalgia, changed by the presence of his 'Dear' partner in these scenes of the past.
As public galley exhibitions are significant for an emerging artist, so too is acquisition of work into public collections. Ashburton Art Gallery has acquired the large diptych featured in the exhibition for its collection - Congratulations Hamish.
Press release courtesy Bartley & Company Art.