Monday, May 24, 2010


I was in the Capital at the weekend and went to The Museum of New Zealand. They happened to be showing Judy Millar's Venetian Biennale effort Giraffe-Bottle-Gun. I have read quite a few negative posts around this work especially peoples dislike of the laser printing of the giant vinyl elements of the installation. I thought the whole effort was bloody marvelous.

The scale of the frames is as big as the titled giraffe and if we accept that these are paintings, they are more overwhelming than McCahon's giant canvass Hi-Fi and the only other works that I have experienced that are in this league are those of Anselm Keifer and Mark Rothko.

But then again they aren't paintings, they are printed copies of Millar's marks, simulations. I was made into an ant but unlike Keifer and Rothko I wasn't about to be crushed by their bombastic, hyperbolic truths.

The other point of contention raised by critics of the work, is the inclusion of Millar's original, authentic paintings; conventionally framed and neatly lined up. The marks on the paper are in proportion and unpixellated; dry rather than vinyl greasy and slightly op', slightly more ab-ex. The human scale makes them readable and approachable. The in scale action painting makes sense to the eye and the brain. They are the exact opposite of the vinyls.

And there it is; this polarisation of effects places the viewer as the arbiter of two manifestations of the same practice. Giraffe-Bottle-Gun is unique in treating the viewer to scale, style and respect.


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