Hawke’s Bay Today: Respected Painter Displays Works
Toi Moko theme explores history and spirituality.
SHANE COTTON: New Heads is a significant development for the region and Parlour Projects as it brings this respected New Zealand artist and his works into our arts community for a month, opening September 25.
It marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and is the first time Cotton’s new series of paintings has been on display in New Zealand.
The exhibition will be on view in the Eastbourne Street gallery from September 25 to October 24.
This recent body of work – comprising small and large-scale paintings, works on paper and a site-specific wall painting – highlights Cotton’s continued engagement with Toi Moko, preserved Maori heads which were traded in the first part of the 19th century and ended up in museum collections around the world.
“In his latest work,” Anthony Byrt writes in the exhibition’s accompanying essay, “Cotton is very deliberately inviting us to see his heads as back holes: infinite, dark voids at the hearts of his paintings. Most of them leak scrambled information – confusing lines and pathways evocative of warped moko patterns.”
Cotton’s large recognisable silhouette heads float in white space, appearing weightless, connecting this new work with The Hanging Sky, an earlier seminal series.
As Byrt notes, “Because the heads/holes seem to bend and hold these information fragments, the white spaces between them becomes charged with structural energy, just like the dark matter that exists between celestial bodies.
“This can also be read as a reference to the structural importance of negative space in Maori pattern-making and design, and to the Maori belief in the complementary generative capabilities of Te Ao (the light) and Te Po (the darkness).”
With specific reference points, including works such as ‘Outsiders’, ‘Bones’ and ‘Flat’, as well as indecipherable channels and fragments that twist and pull, Cotton’s investigations of line, colour and form touch on both history and spirituality. Together, the works in New Heads confirm the artist’s place as on of our country’s most accomplished painters.
Followers of Shane Cotton’s practice will also have the opportunity to join him in conversation at 11am on Saturday, October 14 at 306 Eastbourne Street East, Hastings.
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