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Gretchen Albrecht - Crossing the Threshold

Gretchen Albrecht Crossing the Threshold Exhibition runs until 5 November

Carried on from two previous shows the motif of a threshold, formally represented as a rectangular geometric form within an oval, has been further investigated by Gretchen Albrecht in her works exhibited at the Sue Crockford Gallery.

The exhibition includes works in a number of media: sculpture, canvas and wall paintings, as well as works on paper. Each medium allows for different ways to further explore the motif, their formal characteristics allowing for various symbolic meanings. The threshold, symbolic of a gate, which at the same time is a boundary and a way through, is being crossed.

In Requies, which greets the visitors on their entry to the gallery, the swirling movement of purple colour is representative of the life force. This power is interrupted by two geometric forms in grey colour imposed on an oval. Stripped of the colour of life, they are opposing its force.

Painting directly on the wall surface (something Albrecht has only recently started) gives a sense of fresco painting, although unlike the frescoes, works painted on the gallery walls are temporary. The soft, iridescent feel of the three wall works complements their ephemeral nature, although the possibility of the works being recreated exists. The translucent rectangle in Veil Threshold allows the viewer to see through it, giving the illusion of the threshold floating within a bigger rectangle formed by brushy movements. The overlapping rectangles in Beyond create a feeling of depth and movement into space. Without the edge of the canvas as a physical limitation, the rectangular forms are pushing beyond the boundary of the oval.

The extension beyond the oval is an idea also present in Albrecht¹s sculptural works, in which their three-dimensional nature allows for more intricate layering. The four sculptures are all different in size and complexity; their shifting dynamics invoking a variety of responses. In Headland the horizontal rectangle, symbolic of the landscape, is crossed by a vertical rectangle, which in its portrait format is reminiscent of the human figure. Albrecht¹s abstract works reference nature and she associates the threshold with a farm gate, a horizontal line in the landscape. Since the sculptures stand freely with both sides of the threshold accessible to us, each side becomes an entry and an exit simultaneously.

As the ovals get bigger the thresholds are shifted, paired or broken up, while the metallic mesh binds them together. The mesh carries them, winding in and out in a fluid movement. In the Threshold-Shift there is a feeling of force as the threshold has exploded open. The sculptures shimmer with light and Albrecht imagines them placed above water, their shapes reflected in it.

Brush drawings are etched onto the surface of sculptures so that the stainless steel forms are given a painterly mark, conveying the hand movement and softness of painted works. Personal gestures of the artist are imposed onto the industrial surface; the sculptures marked in a permanent way.

The works on paper, displayed in the smaller space, introduce a wider range of colours. Although some of them form the basis of Albrecht¹s large works, arranged in a patchwork-like manner they add a playful, lighter tone to the exhibition.

Gretchen Albrecht has exhibited throughout New Zealand, as well as internationally, with retrospective exhibitions at the Auckland Art Gallery in 2002 and the Sarjeant Gallery Wanganui in 1986. Albrecht¹s most recent retrospective exhibition containing many works from her own collection, which were never exhibited before, was organised by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery this year and it travels to City Gallery Wellington in November.

Natasa Kruscic


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