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Richard McWhannell "Crossing the Lake"


Tue 17 Dec 2013, 11:00am–5:30pm
Wed 18 Dec 2013, 11:00am–5:30pm
Thu 19 Dec 2013, 11:00am–5:30pm
Fri 20 Dec 2013, 11:00am–5:30pm
Sat 21 Dec 2013, 11:00am–4:00pm

Where: Orexart, Level 1, 15 Putiki Street, Grey Lynn, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages

Listed by: Orexart

Richard McWhannell’s latest series of paintings draws on the clown Pierrot - specifically Watteau’s great painting of Pierrot known as 'Gilles' - for inspiration.

The inspiration has a curious origin. McWhannell confesses that, had it not been for a brush cleaner called ‘Miracle Kumclean’ he would probably never have begun the series.

“Miracle Kumclean is a marvellous alloy of carcinogens that will revive the uncleaned brush or erase the unsuccessful painted dream. When finally I called time on a canvas once held dear ('Poseidon and a Resurrection of Surfers'), the hand went out for the scraper and the liquid means to rid the world of this once ‘with best intentions’ piece. No sooner removed, and with head reeling in solvent daze, there appeared in the Rorschach remnant stain a clown and two atop a rock in a cerulean sea.”

“While formalising the phantom image my thoughts turned to Watteau and his great painted Pierrot. Thus the proto – clown set out on a journey across sea, across land and through time. His vocation is to perform, his life is one of adventure, of dreams, musings and the rest. I’ve lost sight of him now; last seen at Pukekawa 1970.”

The original painting 'Gilles' (1718-19) may be read as Watteau’s wry comment on his own mortality. Perhaps McWhannell is alerting us to familiar scenes we should re-examine for clues, re-evaluate for meaning. Or perhaps the artist is merely casting himself as observer so that we, in turn, may observe.

Pierrot and McWhannell end their travels through these paintings by asking a question of us… “Who fed the baby?”

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