Gill Gatfield – Artworks / Series

Texts

X-figure

An enigmatic sign, the figure/form ‘X’ conjures multiple meanings as text, number and symbol. Traversing cultures, beliefs and knowledge systems, an X can prohibit and denounce, approve and correct, combine and connect. From a mark found in prehistoric caves to the symbol for a female chromosome universal to all women and men, the figure-X conveys human presence. It encapsulates mystery and allure - an unknown variable, an axis on a map, sign of hidden treasure and signifier in the ‘X-factor’.

Subject-Object

Exploring the relationship between 'subject' and 'object', the upright I-forms connect directly with the viewer. Devoid of expressive content, these abstract figures remain open to the viewer’s unique idea of ‘self’, making the 'I' inclusive and collective, and potentially objective. A universal symbol, the I-figures reference physical and intangible realms such as consciousness, self-reflection and spirituality. A Roman numeral meaning One or First, an ‘I’ asserts primacy, commences a sequence, and refers to origins and authenticity.

Glazed I's

The Glazed I series explores the properties of glass beyond traditional form and function. Typically used as a primary protective layer covering and mediating art, here glass is used to express the artwork as a singular and often transparent film. Glass is also a practical material used to moderate human interaction with the environment and to enable human vision, yet 'Glazed I's' infer an impaired vision and blurring of content. In this ambivalent media the shapely I-form sharpens focus. The I-figure invites each viewer to physically and philosophically occupy the notion of 'self' as they view the artwork, the environment, and their own reflection.

The Allegory

Across a range of media, these text-works explore a form of allegory (a narrative or visual image that extends or sustains meanings) using a combined text based visual image.  Testing a founding premise of minimalism, 'less is more', the works take a reductive approach to materials, form and content, while generating compound images and meanings.

Still Painting

The Still Paintings document the relationship between painting/art and its environment. Embedded texts are revealed via short and long term exposure to ultraviolet light. Harnessing the ‘harsh New Zealand light’ praised by modernist painters and feared by art conservators, the Still Painting requires new conservation conventions. In a reversal of genre and process, the landscape does the painting.

Monochromes

Grass Work

Wall hung and alive, the Grass Work is constructed from specially prepared lawn turf, woven and stitched onto canvas supports.  The readymade, set into constant reproduction and endless cycles of growth and dormancy, becomes a 'beingmade'.  Requiring attention, the object carves a direct relationship between artwork, environment, gallery space, viewer, curator and collector.  Where geometric abstract forms may be considered cool and distanced, the Grass Work develops a new form: 'organic abstraction' - wet, warm and needy.

Magnetic Fields

Defying gravity, the magnetic fields offer surreal metallic landscapes connected with the pulling power of the moon. Thousands of polished steel shafts hover and project from linen membranes, suspending the process of making and presenting art in a state of flux. Cold metal and needle sharp points contrast with the work's seductive beauty and illusion of fragility. In a play of movement, shadow and light, the surface renders impressionist brushstrokes or expressionist gestures. Light plays on the steel, shadows rake and create a fringe on the wall.  Fine hair-like surfaces tempt touch and close inspection, risking a prick to soft skin or poke in the eye.

Concrete Art

Wall hung and featherweight, the psuedo-concrete block works delve into cultural, metaphysical and structural foundations.  Absorbing warmth by day and emitting heat at night, the block grid mimics both the function and form of the ubiquitous concrete block, a standard unit of construction.  Precisely carved, compressed and framed, the work adds warmth to a modernist ‘concrete art’ movement which stripped emotion from abstraction and placed it within a context of nation-building ideals.

Nappy Work

Repeating units of stacked newborn nappies/diapers stretch open in a soft and absorbing monochromatic grid.  Estimated to take over 500 years to breakdown in landfill, the 'disposable work' tests and exceeds art conservation conventions.  The unused readymade units morph into the transactional beingmade which discretely absorbs, swells and recedes while padding substrates and walls, dampening noise and loading space with potential meaning.  Questions of vulnerability, nakedness, and memory expand into wider issues of culture, conservation and universality.

Frames

Exterior Frames

Blending portraiture and landscape conventions, the Frames capture, reflect and absorb view and viewer. Where a frame typically outlines, contains and fixes one image, these works offer multiple layered images in constant flux, agnostic as to perspective. Material qualities are hinged to external conditions, creating further shifts in depth, transparency, reflection, shadow and light.

Interior Frames

Within the containment of architectural space, the interior Frames develop a tight and direct relationship between the body, the artwork, and the context. Initial focus tends towards what appears to be narrowed down or missing, including a defined or complete sense of self. A desire to navigate, prompted by the work, shifts the viewer's perceptions and brings a wider range of material qualities and ideas into focus.  Presence and absence become more fluid, and a form of release emerges from within the work's formal constraints.