Parlour Projects is delighted to present a two-person stand by Matt Arbuckle and Emma Fitts at the 2019 Auckland Art Fair. The two bodies of work are tied together by their focus on material and form, in particular, the artists’ use of fabrics and textiles within the works. Matt Arbuckle’s paintings are comprised of trilobe knitted polyester silk, while Emma Fitts’ textile sculptural works are made from wools, linens, silks and cottons. Both artists question whether it is possible, through the careful manipulation of the fundamentals of abstraction — scale, format, composition, colour, mark-making and support — to imbue a surface with complex information or meaning, namely, an emotional narrative.
Arbuckle’s paintings look to the future, examining artefacts of the digital world to continue his exploration of space. They are at once an abstract representation of the sublime nature of space as they are a landscape, containing expanses, volumes and voids within their own unique worlds. By contrast, Fitts’ work is informed by the histories of women who were overlooked or underrepresented in the traditional archive. Her research into the ideas of biography, the histories of architecture, storytelling, textiles and a broader social context are integral to her work.
While one artist looks to the past and the other to the future, similar themes underlie their distinct practices. Using colours, shapes, lines and textures, the artists construct spaces within their works. Suspended colour blocks lled with gestural marks, often interrupted by horizontal scratches or lines, pierce through the surfaces. Certain colours and textures become apparent while others hang in the background. Shadow and light come into play.
The steel frames in the stand call to mind Fitts’ recent residency at the McCahon House, where her large textile works were installed over the doorways, window frames and walls of Colin McCahon’s home. They are also a continuation of the aluminium that frames Arbuckle’s paintings. They give the impression of transparency and opacity, inviting viewers to look through and around the structure, while at the same time creating an awareness of their physicality in relation to the works. The frames are a major structural element that delineate the pictorial planes of the space. They facilitate both two and three-dimensional viewing, creating a multitude of ways to encounter the works, as light travels through from both sides and the frames form di erent windows for looking.
Both artists undergo an intense process to make their works. Arbuckle’s translucent silk works endure a laborious dying and drying process. The pigment retained forms nebulous images of the various drying states, which are built upon with oil stick before being framed in aluminium. Fabrics and materials for Fitts’ textile works are collected and foraged before being sewn and constructed by hand. The results of both are intricate yet powerful works that question and challenge what it means to create art today.
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