Parlour Projects is pleased to present a new body of work by Christian Dimick, titled Sea-saw. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or enquiries. Alternatively, the artworks can be viewed and purchased directly online. An essay by Andrew Clark accompanies the exhibition –
"No matter where you go in Aotearoa, you are never very far from the ocean. The sound of surf and the muttering clatter of shingle or the hiss of waves retreating over sand are baked into our consciousness. No matter how determined you are to put distance between point A and point B, there always remains a lingering knowledge that, eventually, you will simply run out of island.
For Christian Dimick, the sea holds particular interest, as the title of this exhibition implies. Invoking both his physical proximity to the ocean and the reflexive balancing act inherent in the creative process, Sea-saw shows Dimick engage in a series of considered but still playful abstract exercises. A sense of tension between tightness and looseness, planning and happenstance, pervades these works. For example, in Going Out The Entry a low horizon-like line divides the canvas into two discrete zones: a cool, cloudy expanse of carefully managed brushwork above and a fizzing, compressed rectangle crackling with gesture and incident below.
In Sea-saw, Dimick notes, we can see the result of his practice taking on some of the qualities of the ocean. He characterises these as “tension, density, rhythm and [a] constant state of flux.” The works are the result of a practice that is reflexive, reactive and adaptive, rather than authoritative or directorial. They invite the viewer to consider painting as a process or negotiation, something open-ended and ongoing, arrested perhaps in this moment of exhibition, but still only a point on a continuum.
Dimick also invokes the idea of reflexivity or response through a special concern with scale. The paintings are split between large canvases that exist outside or around the viewer and small, intimate works that demand and reward close inspection. Dimick suggests that these small works might be viewed as “tugboats” for the larger canvases, operating as compact, powerful entities that help or guide them on their way. The work that shares its title with the exhibition, Sea-saw, is one such smaller work. Here, a lattice of triangles provides an all-over structure, evoking (for local viewers, at any rate) the gridded “X”s of Allen Maddox. However, whereas for Maddox the grid reflected an obsessive, almost tyrannical sense of order, in Dimick’s work the linear structuring of the image is more akin to a sagging pier being reclaimed by the tides; joyfully organic forms bubble up, around and through the lattice, partially obscuring it in a riot of colour.
Leo Steinberg wrote that Jasper Johns “chose his subjects because they were the ones that best let him live his painter’s life.”(1) Although not new, this idea remains powerful, reframing painting not as an end result or disparate product but as an adjunct process to life, a part of the painter’s everyday experience. Painting can be a simple act of living, as much as brushing one’s teeth. For Dimick, it is a way “to stay contemplatively engaged with the body,” to drop anchor amidst the clamour, to take stock of simple sensory information and to be physically present." – Andrew Clark
1. Leo Steinberg, Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), 48.