The show features meticulously rendered paintings of beaches at sunset, a series of small paintings of clasped hands and a number of abstracts evoking atmosphere or sky.
Basher's exhibition takes its inspiration from his recent tenure at the Colin McCahon Artist Residency in Titirangi, just west of Auckland. For Basher, the residency's lush rainforest setting presented a contradiction, for the proximity to the beautiful and the natural also meant distance from the city and a corresponding dependence on cars, the internet, and mail order. The immediacy of a natural setting actually meant Basher had a much more mediated daily existence. Thus the residency came to be framed by the sublime beauty of west-coast sunsets on one hand, and long trips through the strip malls of West Auckland and wastelands of the internet on the other.
This incongruity provided a perfect context for Basher to further his ongoing explorations into states of beauty, desire, spiritual longing and consumerism. Turning his back on the stunning beaches at his doorstep, Basher turned to the internet and dollar stores for his source material. Trawling for posters, screen savers and public domain imagery of beaches and sun-sets, Basher sought out the perfectbeach - an idea rather than the real thing - a site into which one could project their own vision of paradise. The resulting images he has collected and painted represent snippets of an immense pool of images that are at once specific and diffuse, loaded with longing and romance, yet ultimately just vectors for the desires of the viewer.
If the internet ciphers two things perfectly, the first is desire, and the second, commerce. Basher's hand paintings are also derived from internet imagery, largely as clip-art one might use to illustrate conference brochures, business school advertising or religious pamphlets. The hands bear witness to a basic human desire for contact, touch, and warmth, but they also represent the most international and universal of business gestures.
Martin Basher (b. 1979) grew up in Wellington but has lived in New York for over a decade. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a MFA, both from Columbia University, New York. He has exhibited widely in New Zealand and internationally. Basher has just completed a major new outdoor sculpture commission for The Public Art Fund in New York that will be on view for the next year. The Public Art Fund is the premiere public arts funding organization in New York, having commissioned landmark works by the likes of Rachel Whiteread, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Olafur Eliasson. Starkwhite's exhibition opens concurrently with Basher's sculpture; the two exhibitions represent a single body of work.
Located in New Zealand on Auckland's Karangahape Road, Starkwhite presents a programme of artists' projects, solo shows, independently curated exhibitions and occasional forays into new music and other interdisciplinary practices. Starkwhite also represents artists from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific rim.
Please contact the gallery for further information and images.
Press release courtesy Starkwhite.