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Gretchen Albrecht - Oceans, Clouds, Thresholds

Gretchen Albrecht
Oceans, Clouds, Thresholds
Sue Crockford Gallery
2 - 20 November 2004.

The Sue Crockford Gallery is pleased to announce their next exhibition Gretchen Albrecht: Oceans, Clouds, Thresholds.

The exhibition is Albrecht¹s sixteenth one-person show at Sue Crockford Gallery since 1985. The show is comprised of new paintings and works on paper, and debuts Albrecht¹s first sculptural pieces.

The central motif in the show is that of the threshold: a rectangle with a hollow core. Acting simultaneously as entrance and barrier, this paradoxical structure implies the notion of passing through to a space behind and beyond the form itself. The motif was first introduced in Albrecht¹s solo show Threshold at Sue Crockford Gallery 2003 and in Oceans, Clouds, Thresholds it is investigated in all three mediums.

There are three series of paintings in the exhibition, Oceans, Clouds, and Thresholds, echoing the title of the show itself. Each painting takes the oval form that has been key to Albrecht¹s oeuvre for fifteen years. In the Threshold paintings the curves of the oval canvas formally contrast the rectangular threshold motif; its sharp corners are enclosed within the contours of the oval. The paradoxical nature of the motif can be seen in Open Threshold (velvet). While delineated, the form is filled with a mass of red, velvet-like brush work, giving the impression of a veil, and yet at its centre there is an entrance, an invitation through the surface of the canvas into the unknown.

In the Cloud paintings Albrecht extends an on-going investigation into the notion of illumination, continuing on from the Claritas series (2001). In Clouds the investigation is shifted to the natural world, a shift initiated in Aotearoa Cloud (2002). Adopting a palette of shades of white and grey, the works take on a distinctly atmospheric quality advanced through the layering of amorphous paint. The lightness of the Clouds compliments the deep blue, almost pool-like quality of the Ocean series. The darkness of these works is reflected in their titles Night Ocean; a reference to the poem Dos Cuerpos, by Octavio Paz whom Albrecht often turns to for titles and imagery. The sense of depth provided by these Ocean paintings privileges the spectator with a Gods-eye view allowing us to gaze down onto these pools from above.

Contrasting the singularity of colour and line afforded by the paintings, the principal wall of the gallery is a kaleidoscope of colours provided by a series of gouache and collaged works on paper. The variability and density of the collaged paper visually interrupts the play of transparency and opacity of the gouache. This formal dualism allows for a complexity that engages the eye in a kind of visual game. Amongst the myriad of collaged works on paper are four larger ovals, each baring the motif of the threshold. Green, orange and red in colour, the ovals reference nature¹s fungi. Their colours are derived from observation and their ovate forms invoke ideas of spores and foliose lichen.

Placed within the gallery are Albrecht¹s first sculptures: two comprised of stainless steel, one of aluminium. The sculptures are in editions of three and can be scaled up for unique larger works. Here that ever-present shallow space of the paintings is released into the three dimensional space of sculpture, translating Albrecht¹s painted language into a sculptural vernacular. Like the paintings the sculptures take the form of the oval. However, instead of creating a containing environment, like that afforded by the ovate two-dimensional canvases, the sculptural ovals interact with our environment. Attached within the centre of each oval are geometric elements, around which a dancing ribbon of metallic mesh speaks the rhythmic language of gestural paint, while the bars of the geometric elements themselves are brushed with marks endowing them with the traces of the paintings that came before them.

Albrecht was born in Auckland in 1943. Since her first one-person show in 1964, she has exhibited throughout New Zealand and internationally in New York, London, Spain and the Netherlands. Albrecht has had retrospective exhibitions at the Auckland City Art Gallery and the Sargeant Gallery Wanganui. A retrospective of her Hemispheres and Ovals of the past 23 years, is presently being organized by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Drawn mostly from Albrecht¹s collection of her own paintings, many have never been exhibited before. The retrospective opens February 25th 2005 in Dunedin and concludes at the City Gallery Wellington in December 2005. A television documentary on Albrecht is also in the planning stages.

Gretchen Albrecht: Oceans, Clouds, Thresholds will be on display at the Sue Crockford Gallery Suite 2C, Endeans Building, 2 Queen St. Auckland City,

November 2nd-20th.
Preview Tuesday November 2nd 5.30pm-7pm.
Hours: Tuesday ­ Friday 11.00am ­ 5.00pm, Saturday 11.00am ­ 3.00pm.

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