Jonathan Smart Gallery presents a group exhibition of contemporary New Zealand photography to accompany a body of new work by Conor Clarke. These artists are friends and mentors invited and wrangled by Clarke, grateful for the company and inspiration offered her along the way. So, this is a rare opportunity to scope recent work by many of Aotearoa’s best photographers. John Collie catches memories in the Christchurch red zone; Roberta Thornley captures in haunting detail eerie light down a fenceline; Greta Anderson’s painterly still-life geranium is far from what it seems; and Tia Ranginui’s spectral male and female figures look both ecstatic and supernatural.
There are many different approaches to photography on show here – and certainly something for everyone, from the delicate play of light, shadow and sinuous form (in the Solomon Mortimer + Zahra Killen-Chance work), to the panoramic detail of Chris Corson-Scott, the intimate photograms of Areta Wilkinson + Mark Adams, and the humour of Sam Hartnett’s Pioneer Fly.
Then there is Conor Clarke’s work. Much has been written recently, from the terrific text by Lachlan Taylor in Art Collector magazine #105, to the excellent essays around this exhibition by Kirsty Dunn and Barbara Garrie in the handsome little catalogue designed by Sang Kyu Moon and Ken Santos. There are glimpses of the everyday presented along a shelf – 12 stations in all – whilst the other images are all landscape tropes, mountains in the main, but all are simulations of the real, fictions constructed at least one step away from reality. And they are glorious.
Exhibited artists include Edith Amituanai, Greta Anderson, Joy Auckram, Caryline Boreham, Mary-Louise Browne, Conor Clarke, John Collie, Chris Corson-Scott, Andrea Gardner, Sam Hartnett, Craig Hilton, Joseph Jowitt, Jae Hoon Lee, John Miller, Solomon Mortimer + Zahra Killen-Chance, Louise Palmer, Tia Ranginui, Haruhiko Sameshima, Shigeru Takato, Roberta Thornley, Tim J. Veling and Areta Wilkinson + Mark Adams.