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David McCracken & Darryn George show new exalted work

Review. John Daly-Peoples

David McCracken, Exalt in Transmission

David McCracken, Exalt  in Transmission

Gow Langsford Gallery (Lorne St)

Until October 24

David McCracken’s latest exhibition features five large metal sculptures which look at first sight like rusted, large, toothed constructions, remnants of the industrial age.

The toothed wheel or belt is central to the development of mechanical technology and is the often unseen component of everyday objects which use gears. McCracken’s sculptures are representations as well as monuments to the industrial revolution.

However even though these reconstructions look impressive the way the artist has designed the twisted constructions means they are impracticable. Rather than reproduce the normal  toothed belt he has made it in the form of a Mobius Strip with the toothed belt flipping on itself. This is most obvious in “”I’m going to be arrogant when I grow up” ($55,000)

The simplest of the works is “Meat puppets made me this way” ($45,000) a circular work  which is also the one work in the exhibition which conceiveably could be part of a working machine.

The most dramatic piece is “Just get me off” ($45,000) where a looped form like a zipper is suspended between two pillars in the gallery with the notions of flexibility and rigidity in conflict.

The works are a variation on the idea of the found object or the readymade being identified as art object and these works look as though they could have all come from a defunct industrial plant. This approach which in some ways similar to that of Glen Hayward draws attention to the common object focussing on the notions of design, texture, colour which can be overlooked or under-appreciated.

The size and precision of these works is impressive especially when considering that these are not manufactured for industrial scale purposes. The artist’s design expertise and engineering skills are exceptional and alongside those parctical aspects he brings insight and  understanding into the way in which objects interact with their environment.

The artist says of the sculptures, they are  “an enquiry into the beauty and complexity of machined mechanical gears. The physics of mechanical gears have a rigorous mathematical precision to them so that the surfaces of meshing teeth never lose contact with each other when they’re under load. It is something I have come to see as a metaphor for communication, the need being to maintain contact.”

Darryn George, A River Flowing out of Eden

Gow Langsford (Kitchener St)

Until October 24

Darryn George who recently recieved the  Second Award in the Wallace Awards has produced a new body of semi abstract works in which the  rigid geometry of past paintings has morphed into more recognisable natural and architectural elements.

Under the title of  “A River Flowing out of Eden” he has created a flamboyant set of works which owe much to folk art with its use of bold colours, and  elementary structures and designs. They also have links to Primitivism  and  Naïve artists like Henri Rousseau and Séraphine Louis.

A River Flowing out of Eden #4”  ($24,000) is a large mural-like work which features a crowd of coloured abstracted figures standing before a series of abstract circles topped with architectural features including onion domed roofs. Above this is a landscape with a forest or orchard (Eden). Centrally places is a column of multi-coloured stripe reminiscent of the artists’  previous abstracts.

Mara #25 ($9800) has more of an emphasis on botanic design with a nod to the floral works of Frida Kahlo while “Garden of Eden – 17.1.2020” ($3000) has something of  an art nouveau feel to it.

“Cloud 2” ($9800) with its scribbled clouds and looming sun is like a child’s view of the sky, the artist seeming to aim for a symbolist approach to his work.

Where in his previous work he combined aspects of traditional Maori art and contemporary abstract painting the artists visioin has expanded so that underlying these new  works was is connections to a Maori world view along with his Christian beliefs. So these new works are like a refinement and reworking of traditional  Christian stained glass windows with their biblical stories which have often had parallels with Maori spirituality.

The artist writes: (My) series of artworks around the topic of ‘Innocence’… grew out of watching the news and having a sinking feeling about the brokenness and hurt that is an everyday reality. The vehicle or subject that came to mind was the Garden of Eden, a place of purity before the Fall and to convey this innocence, I decided to draw the garden in a childlike manner.

Darryn George, A River flowing out of Eden #4

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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