Graham Fletcher / Peter Trevelyan / Aiko Robinson (2019)
Starkly composed interiors, delicate sculptural lattices, and a modern twist on traditional Japanese erotica combine in our latest exhibition.
Graham Fletcher's images subvert the idea of the Modernist house interior by examining the legacy of the collection and archiving of "primitive" art. The European fetishisation of tribal culture and its domestic display has created a situation where African and Oceanian art finds itself within an alien setting, with European and tribal artefacts counterpointing and entering into narratives with each other. The artist is not unaware of the analogy to the commingling of Pakeha and Polynesian in New Zealand social life, where each group has by necessity to either adapt to or clash with the other's mores.
Beyond their cultural commentary, Fletcher's paintings are also masterworks of composition and construction. There is a heroic use the paint in the creation of his canvases, and the almost bland Hockneyesque interiors are often speared by bold diagonals, creating an intense dynamism to the images.
Aiko Robinson's art also examines the interplay of different cultures. Her images take the Japanese tradition of Shunga, now regarded as high art but originally created as pornography, and contrasts it with modern pornography. Despite its prurient nature, Shunga celebrated mutual pleasure and equality between the sexes, and stressed the joy of love. Modern erotica is often tailored to male audience and stresses sexual conquest over reciprocated pleasure. Robinson restores the humour and playfulness in her images by the use of visual puns which are also reflected in her occasionally defiantly crude titles.
As with traditional Shunga, Robinson's figures are also predominantly clothed, and the subtle depiction of fabrics and wrinkled skin blend into each other such that it is difficult to tell where one starts and the other ends. The figures are typically displayed headless, and the essential subject matter is often not grasped by the viewer. This again allows the attention to focus on the textures rather than the subject. This feature also ironically points to the use of anonymity in much western pornography, where the face and identity are less important than the acts depicted.
Despite the bold subject matter there is still a lovely subtlety in Robinson's art. The flowing line and gentle intricacy of the designs bring to mind not only Japanese Shunga, but also the western adoption and veneration of the style in the work of artists such as Aubrey Beardsley.
In Peter Trevelyan's sculptures, draughtsmanship escapes from the two-dimensional surface to become intricate and delicate structure. It is almost as if Trevelyan has drawn an image and then - like the tablecloth party trick - has pulled the paper out from underneath the drawing.
His spidery constructs explore notions of volume while appearing as ever-shifting lattices which transform as the viewer moves around them. We come to question the nature of surface and volume whilst simultaneously being in awe at the artist's meticulous craftsmanship. Originally using pencil leads, the artist has extended his discipline to include fine extruded lines of plastic. This has allowed for more use of colour, and is also a comment on modern society's treatment of plastic as an infinite disposable resource. Our reliance on such a material leaves our civilisation as fragile and delicate as these ethereal structures.