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Contemporary focus: Aspects of abstraction

Curated by Charlotte Huddleston, this selection of works from the collection focuses on recent acquisitions of work by Chiara Corbelletto and Julian Dashper, placing them alongside works by senior artists Don Driver and Milan Mrkusich. Together the grouping of works investigates aspects of abstraction looking in particular at form and colour. It also addresses ideas of serial repetition, as can be seen in Corbelletto's works, and the history of abstract painting examined by Dashper. The works of Mrkusich and Driver offer considered explorations of colour, texture and surface through abstract painting and assemblage respectively.

This selection of works spans the period from 1978 to 2008, presenting a view of some facets of abstraction over three decades, and indicating the similarities and differences in artists' work in material and form.

Corbelletto's practice explores formal repetition, abstraction and scale. Her methods of exhaustively exploring the possibilities and combinations of one form are closely tied to those employed by many abstract painters.

Dashper works with painting as both a material and conceptual practice. The works in this selection represent his 'struggle' with how to make a painting of any value – a painting that is more important than an empty wall.

Dashper and Corbelletto are consistently working with a variety of materials in an abstract manner; their work has numerous formal and conceptual relationships to the history of abstraction as played out in painting, assemblage and sculpture. Alongside the works of Driver and Mrkusich, in particular, there are similarities as well as points of difference in aesthetic and conceptual exploration. These points of intersection and diversion between the works offer up a rich territory for viewers to get a sense of contemporary abstract practices in New Zealand art as well as to consider new relationships between works in the collection.

The works selected raise notions of abstraction and representation in art practices, the boundaries of art and design, the meaning of our relationship to cultural production and investigation of colour and the serial repetition of form. Furthermore, the selection of works makes a number of connections to other works by the same artists represented elsewhere in Toi Te Papa—such as Don Driver, Milan Mrkusich and Julian Dashper. There are also relationships to other artists working with similar concerns who are also included in Toi Te Papa, including Gordon Walters, Carl Sydow, Sandy Adsett and Luise Fong.

Aspects of Abstraction closed on 8 February 2009.

Previous contemporary focus: Kura kura Ngāi Tahu





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