Sixty odd years ago while living in Titirangi’s French Bay, Colin McCahon briefly adopted the habit of rising early at dawn, and as Gordon Brown relates, ‘he would then contemplate the bush with all the intensity he could muster so that the forms of the trees would dematerialize while his sense of spatial depth diminished.’ At its most intense, McCahon likened this illusionary effect to that of the blind man mentioned in Mark’s Gospel who on first receiving his sight, saw “men as trees, walking.”
With FrenchBayDarkly… Reynolds blurs the kaleidoscopic rhapsodies of McCahon’s mid-century French Bay nightscapes with an imagined darker vision from those lost hours when he traversed the street and landscapes of Wooloomooloo nearly thirty years later. Telescoping the ‘soft luminosity ‘of the Titirangi night against the delirium or altered states of McCahon’s harsh nocturnal disprientation, which culminstated in the ghost gums of Centwennial Park. Pixellating McCahon/s ‘little squares technique’, Reynolds wishes to squint his eyes in contemplation of both these geographies, and a dream aesthetic, where forms prolong and multiply themselves.
FrenchBayDarkly… is the second exhibition from Reynolds’ larger, ongoing exploration of Colin McCahon’s ‘missing hours’ when McCahon tragically went missing in the Botanical Gardens on the eve of the launch of his 1984 Sydney Biennale satellite retrospective I Will Need Words. He was found the next day disoriented and with no identification, five kilometers away in Centennial Park. Reynolds’ evolving project is part missing person’s archive, part pilgrimage, part art historical vagabondage.
Reynolds is currently artist-in-residence at the McCahon House in Titirangi where he is developing his McCahon archive and a new suite of drawings. Later in the year he will further his McCahon project with a large wall drawing at the Dunden Public Art Gallery.
John Reynolds lives and works in Auckland. Solo shows include: WalkWithMe, Starkwhite (2016); Manifesto, Tauranga Art Gallery (2015); Epistamadolgies, Auckland Art Gallery (2015); Blutopia, Starkwhite (2014); Vagabondage, Starkwhite (2013); The Art of War, ART HK, the international art fair of Hong Kong (2010); NOMADOLOGY [loitering with intent], Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2010); 1001 Nights, The Amory Show, New York (2010); Table of Dynasties, ART HK, the international art fair of Hong Kong (2009); John Reynolds: Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, a collaboration between the artist and actor/director Geraldine Brophy, Christchurch Art Gallery (2008); Speaking Truth to Power, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland University (2007); HEVN: NOT TO SCALE, curated by Sophie McIntyre, Adam Gallery Victoria University, Wellington (2002): and From K Road to Kingdom Come, curated by Gregory Burke and Robert Leonard, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2001).
Representation in recent group exhibitions include: ANZAC Centenary Print Portfolio, Parliament House, Canberra (2016); Julian Dashper & Friends, curated by Robert Leonard, City Gallery Wellington (2015); Lines across the ocean, MOCA, Santiago (2013); Kermadec, Maritime Museum, Auckland & City Gallery Wellington (2012); One Hand Read, presented in a three-person show at Art Los Angeles Contemporary, the international art fair of Los Angeles (2010); Dorothy Napangardi / John Reynolds, curated by Robert Leonard, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2009); Walters Prize Exhibition, Auckland Art Gallery (2008); Zones of Conflict, 15th Biennale of Sydney (his work Cloud was commissioned for the entrance hall of the Art Gallery of New South Wales), curated by Charles Merewether (2006); 54321: Auckland Artists Projects, curated by Ngahiraka Mason, Auckland Art Gallery (2006); and Nine Lives: The Chartwell Collection, curated by Robert Leonard, Auckland Art Gallery (2003).Reynolds is also the recipient of a Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand, a member of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Foundation and the subject of Questions for Mr Reynolds, a TV documentary produced by Shirley Horrocks.
Press release courtesy Starkwhite.