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NOVEMBER – BLUE – AUCKLAND

Elisabeth Vary, Geoff Thornley, Gunter Umberg, Erin Lawlor, Winston Roeth, Gary McMillan, Leigh Martin, Tomislav Nikolic.

“I want to die with my blue jeans on” Andy Warhol

Blue has no dimensions; it is beyond dimensions, whereas the other colours are not… All colours arouse specific associative ideas… while blue suggests at most the sea and sky, and they, after all, are in actual, visible nature what is most abstract. Yves Klein

Surely too much has been written about ‘The Blues’ to add meaningfully to it. If ever there was a colour that enjoys a parallel life as an analogy for an emotional state, it is blue and yet the lyrics and riffs just keep on coming.

From Johnny Cash to Jim Morrison, Muddy Waters to New Order, Tom Waits to Crystal Gayle “blue” folds introspection and melancholy inside a blanket of ethereal.

The works in this exhibition don’t seek to leverage the same sentimental hook as the lyrics and riffs; rather they approach blue I suspect because of its mysterious body. Blue has the capacity to be deep and to be pale, to be heavy and to be light and yet it always remains blue. It doesn’t rescind its name and character like red who becomes pink and crimson, it doesn’t camouflage itself like green and become British Racing or olive.

In Erin Lawlor’s Below (think Wishbone Ash’s “Bad Weather Blues”) or Gunter Umberg’s deep Prussian Blue painting (think Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet”), their blues have both atmospherics and body. As different as the hues are, their speeds, their densities and their weight are, they are defiantly blue.

In Geoff Thornley’s White Lines it is the rhythmic blue gesture that contributes most to the painting’s atmosphere and temperature. Like a series of cool whispers the colour arcs and dives through the structure that Thornley’s brushwork builds.

Winston Roeth’s Out of Nowhere pulses with deep, cool, and iridescent blues; blues that variously open and close. Despite their weight and substance Roeth’s colours have a curious incorporeal, nigh on spiritual quality.

Gary McMillan’s modestly scaled urban-scape, Untitled #21, exists as a fusion of agitated chromatic atoms that galvanise to suggest form, or in the case of the blue “dots”, disperse into the atmosphere…and it is this intangible, unearthly characteristic that McMillan wants to capture.

In the case of Tomislav Nikolic, it is colour’s emotional clout that he expresses. Nikolic is democratic about his investigations into colour, favouring each and all. In by an endeavour to understand: d. the mode of inter-related activity, 5, the blue is hidden from clear sight. The soft orange form is in the process of cleaving itself in response to shifts in humidity. As the timber drys and splits then the fissures that were apparent to Nikolic prior to painting were filled with pigment (blue) only to be revealed once the entropy has begun.

Elisabeth Vary’s coloured forms are like icebergs that crack and shear-off to migrate across the wall, but are held in place by a magnetic bouyancy. Their blueness is not obvious, but deep blues and their compiumentary ornages often from the grounds of her work and influence the other colours.

Leigh Martin loves blue. He loves the way that it moves and coalesces on an edge. I bet he loves that Bowie lyric about blue: “Blue, blue, electric blue/That’s the colour of my room/Where I will live/Blue, blue”. As a lyric and sentiment it is a long way from John Lee Hooker or Thoroughgood, but his too, paintings are defiantly blue.