Greer Twiss: Recent Sculpture
Pat Hanly: Torsos, Working Drawings 1976-78
By now, any spectator present at an exhibition of sculpture by Greer Twiss can be assured of walking a maze of elegant and intellectual assemblages of individual steel, bronze and aluminium pieces which, although created to be .separate entities, can be viewed as a collective enterprise. Whether or not intended, Twiss' recent exhibitions have this collective feeling by reason of the sculptures' similarities in both technique and materials.
Recent Sculpture has much in common with Twiss' earlier exhibitions such as Barriers and Sight Screens (Peter Webb Galleries, 1976) and Site/Sight Works (Barry Lett Galleries, 1977). The same long, directional sections of steel, joined either permanently or held by spot welding, clamps, or lug nuts and bolts are there: but replacing casts of rope or cloth sections are now aluminium renditions of small sand bags similar to those found in any welding shop, and casts of canvas-like straps. The sand bags act as visual cushions for large steel plates; or are hung rather ambiguously and limply along steel beams. The canvas-like strap casts are employed to hold crossed sections of metal in specific, directional suspensions.
Support System 1
bronze steel & aluminium
The sculptures are involved with the principles of support (permanent 'Or temporary), confinement in space and form, and an uncanny sense of indefinite movement through space created by the interlocking, angular intersections of beams and the occasional use of subtle directional signals of sanded or polished areas atop intersecting joints.
The sculptural achievements of Twiss have been well documented (see articles in Landfall (1965), Paul Beadle; Artists and Craftsmen of New Zealand (1969), Peter Cape; New Zealand Listener, 'Greer Twiss, Sculptor' (1970); Islands (1976), Bruce Barber; Art New Zealand, Number 3, James Ross; Auckland City Art Gallery Quarterly, Number 65, (1977), John Tarlton; and New Art - Some Recent New Zealand Sculpture and Post-Object Art (1976), edited by Jim Allen and Wystan Curnow); and so in the short space of a review it perhaps does little merely to repeat what has already been said. It may suffice to close with a quote by the director of the Barry Lett Galleries, Rodney Kirk-Smith - 'Greer Twiss is one of the fine sculptors working in New Zealand, without doubt'.
The exhibition Torsos, Working Drawings 1976-78 by Pat Hanly could not be considered a major exhibition by this artist - it wasn't meant to be, for in the artist's own foreword we are advised that the drawings and washes are simply 'working drawings and colour notes' from such well-received series as Jinger Girl (1976) and Torsos (1978).
Girl on the Grass
brush drawing, 111 x 108 mm
(Barry Lett Galleries)
But like Hanly's drawing retrospective organised by the Manawatu Art Gallery a few years ago, Torsos, Working Drawings was an eye opener: for in this exhibition we were allowed to follow the artist's constant pictorial explorations of form and technique; able to observe the slightest variation in composition or shift of emphasis.
Unlike suites such as the Jinger Girl, with its almost sculptural feeling for body masses, the Working Drawings retain a more graphic air, complete with an inquisitive, wandering quality of line. At times these lines follow a predetermined path and then suddenly break away into free-flowing arabesques of patterning. All the drawings are flat and retain the integrity of the two dimensional paper surface.
The exhibition is basically a monochromatic one - the exceptions being the introduction of painted or pasted red heart shapes on some torsos; a full colour painting; and two 'dry-points' printed in the notorious Hanly 'inky thumb' method. These drypoints, both entitled Adventurer are also embellished with pasted red heart shapes.
Exhibitions like Torsos, Working Drawings 1976-78 enable the public, critic and historian to achieve a fuller, more comprehensive view of an individual artist's growth and output. Through these preliminary studies we are better equipped to appreciate the major paintings. Torsos, Working Drawings would seem to indicate that Hanly is still a major force in contemporary figurative art in New Zealand.