Michael Hight's latest exhibition features a series of paintings that offer a contemporary and distinctly local take on wunderkammern or cabinets of curiosities, those almost magical repositories for all manner of wondrous and unusual objects popularised in sixteenth-century Europe. Hight defines the composition of these works by employing a set of shelving units, with each compartment containing objects – musical instruments, skeletons, obscure tools, inkwells, antique toys – and fragments drawn from particular landscapes within Aotearoa. The paintings offer an intriguing tableaux manifested from Hight's own personal memories and experiences alongside national histories and geographies. The works are heavy with significance, yet their origin andmeaning remain invitingly mysterious. Set inside some of these shelves are sections of beehives; colourful hive bodies stacked one upon the other. These hives appear as if displaced from another of Hight's ongoing and distinctly familiar painting series, in which beehives are set against the backdrop of breath-taking rural and mountain scenes. These works depict an archetypal and arguably idealised New Zealand, yetthere is a certain poignancy here; an interesting tension between thosemanmade structures and the untamed New Zealand landscape.
Press release courtesy Page Galleries.