Reviews, News and Commentary

Mathew Carter’s evocative and thoughtful diary of images and events

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples

Mathew Carter“Britomart crossing on a rainy day”

Mathew Carter “New Wave”

Föenander Gallery

Until  March 28

Reviewed by John  Daly-Peoples

Mathew Carter’s new exhibition “New Wave” is timely, coinciding as it does with the opening of “Light from Tate” at the Auckland Art Gallery, both of these shows being heavily focussed on light.

Most artists have to deal with light in their paintings to help illuminate their subjects  create texture and contrasts and for Carter light becomes an essential component of his works.

The exhibition can be read as something of diary of images and events in central Auckland, capturing disparate ways in which light plays on and highlights buildings, streets and people.

Paintings such as “Britomart crossing on a rainy day” ($2200) refer back to the work of Pierre Bonnard having many of the  features of the Post Impressionist period such as capturing a scene with seemingly, quickly applied brush strokes, distorting forms for expressive effect, the use of unnatural colour and an emphasis on strong light.

There is also a strong cinematic feel to many of the works deriving from both American “noir” and French New Wave” film. The catalogue to the exhibition notes that the title could refer to “The Wave” a previous work  of Carters. This exhibition includes a similar work titled “New Wave” ($1650) with a gesturing figure which could be a still  from a Godard film or that of a candid photo shot.

Mathew Carter “Victoria St West”

In many of his paintings  we also see an emphasis on the geometry of buildings, streets and shadows with off centre angles and views as well as strong contrasts between light, building shapes, objects and people.

In some of the paintings the artists approach seems casual as in “Victoria St West” ($2150) where the emphasis  is on the road sign and its shadow which dominates the painting. This emphasis on the common everyday fragments of life mirrors much of the  literature of the French New Wave writing of Alain Robbe-Grillet.

Mathew Carter “The Old Post Shop”

With the empty space of “The Old Post Shop” ($2200) the artist is focused on the play of light and shape in the disused space while with “Ventilator Shaft AUT – study” ($500) the concern appears to be in contrasting an architectural shape with the shadow of another architectural shape.

In others there is a quiet drama such as the ”Figures on Great North Road” ($5500) which has a strong cinematic quality and a sense of narrative  emphasised by the dramatic contrast of light, shape and colour.

In these portraits of places and figures he captured scenes of everyday events but they possess an energy which elevates them to evocative and thoughtful ruminations on the beauty and significance of the commonplace.

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By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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