There’s some irony in Meg Porteous being such a success in 2020. Her style of photography is seemingly spontaneous, voyeuristic in a way that’s really common now we all exist in the background of someone else’s Instagram story. Her work appeared fresh and wry in her solo exhibition Tears in rain at Hopkinson Mossman in 2019, but I wouldn’t have expected it to hold the same power on a screen so often filled with oddly composed mirror selfies and the minutiae of city living. But over lockdown, it seemed cropped or blurred images of Porteous were always stopping me in my scroll; hero images promoting shows that may or may not take place offline.
One exhibition that did come to fruition was the juncture at Auckland’s Neo Gracie, which was open in the flesh in late 2020. The photographs on show were almost entirely monochrome, but for the suggestion of pink flesh beneath sheer nylons or the green-and-yellow check of curtains at the end of a hospital bed.
In the accompanying text for juncture, writer Anna Rankin notes: “On style and mood, the tenor of Porteous’ photographs is cool and refined like the steel and glass of a hotel room in a modern metropolis, and warm like expensive angora in fawn.” It is a smart show, one that is more than the sum of its parts. Alone, the photographs are diverting- ing. Strung together, they tell a story of the professional class; the kind of woman who wears pantyhose and drives a compact car, whose body is fallible and grinds beyond her control.
In 2020, Porteous also showed with Mossman as part of the virtual Auckland Art Fair; in Uncomfortable Silence at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū; and screened the work Elliptical Intimacy as part of the May Fair program. She soon opens a solo at Michael Lett Gallery in Auckland.
Image: Installation view of Meg Porteous’ juncture, Neo Gracie, Auckland, 2020. Courtesy: the artist and Mossman Gallery, New Zealand.
This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 95, JAN – MAR 2021.