Reviews, News and Commentary

New paintings inhabit a realm between the abstract and the realist

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

Belinda Griffithe, When the birds came back #5

Belinda Griffiths, “Inflection”

Föenander Galleries, Mt Eden

Until March 9

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

In her recent exhibition “Inflection” Belinda Griffiths continues her focus on the figure. In her previous work the figure has often been linked to the landscape, but this exhibition includes many images of birds. These are from a series of daily paintings she made of the blackbirds in her garden undertaken during lockdown.

The artist says of these works, “A daily return to the natural world became more than just a quaint idea, but an essential way for me to spend time and connect with something concrete that extended beyond the challenges of lockdown, a way to connect to something bigger than myself.”

As well as “portraits” of birds there are several which are of figures incorporating birds. In these, she links ideas about birds with humans, drawing on history, mythology and symbolism.

Birds generally  represent freedom because of their ability to roam the earth and are often seen as symbols of  rebirth, intelligence, peace, and love. They can also be  omens of death and films like “The Birds” have given the creatures some sinister qualities.

Griffiths’ works inhabit a realm between the abstract and the realist as she attempts to capture the essence of a figure (or a bird ) with calligraphic gestures, The birds can be seen as harbingers of change as well as expressions of the human condition.

In many cases using a minimum of means, as with “Traced in the Shadow 4” ($950) rather than the depiction of the bird we have the impression of movement and the bird’s feathers are indicated by tentative brush strokes.

A set of six images of birds entitled “When the  birds come back” ($800 each) look as though they could be six separate studies of the same bird capturing different impressions or notions about birds – inquisitive, agitated and disdainful. The most intriguing of the set is “When the  birds come back  #3” where we see only the lower half of the bird as it has just taken flight and it looks like a mistimed photograph of the escaping bird.

Belinda Griffiths, When the black bird flew out of sight #2

The idea that birds represent  aspects of the human heart is conveyed in “When the blackbird flew out of sight 2” ($3000)  while in “Inescapable Rhythms” ($3000) bird and man appear to be as one.

There are two large figurative works which are more detailed than the calligraphic works. “Inflection 1” ($6000) looks as though it is a portrait of one of Antony Gormley’s rusted Corten steel sculptures, the glowing figure seeming to be emerging out of the black background.

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

One reply on “New paintings inhabit a realm between the abstract and the realist”

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