Thursday, 16 December 2010

Bite 15: Gretchen Albrecht - Aotearoa - Cloud, 2002

Aotearoa - Cloud, 2002, acrylic and oil on canvas, 250 x 500 cm
Standing before this calm yet commanding canvas the viewer is drawn into its enfolding embrace. A wide, expanding universe, a shimmering hemisphere, an optical illusion, it is a work of abstraction, while remaining figurative, suggesting waves colliding. The sea, the land (with the earthy canvas), and the sky (a long white cloud - Aotearoa) are combined in this monumental painting, a world unto itself, changing as you approach it and move away.

The technique is typical of Albrecht, yet her rich array of effects evidences the virtuosity of her approaches within tight conceptual guidelines. She has a mastery of colour, its symbolism and its compositional and conceptual power. 

Here however she restricts the palatte, producing a work both grounded and active, clearly influenced by American abstract expressionism (Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko come to mind), while remaining quintessentially Aotearoa New Zealand.

Currently on view in the exhibition Call Waiting at New Gallery, Auckland until 30 May 2011.

Oliver Stead, Art Icons of New Zealand: Lines in the Sand, Bateman, 2008.