Caravaggisti Presents WORKING IN THE SHADOW Review by Franky Strachan Printed in the ODT 15/3/12

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian artist of the 16th and 17th centuries. He was of great influence to the baroque period in art history and has been said to have put “the oscuro (shadows) into chiascuro”.

Renowned in the art world for his psychological realism, dramatic use of lighting and more broadly for his “disorderly” lifestyle, Caravaggio had a reputation as something of a ruffian that has outlived him, making him the reference point for a group of male artists here.

Local artists Craig Freeborn, Danny Brisbane, Flynn Morris-Clark, James Colin Bellaney and Philip Madill are all either near-graduates, graduates, or masters of fine art respectively, and this exhibition is tied together by their mutual fixation on darker – that is, perceptively sceptical – realist themes. To say “realist” is not to suggest a stylistic trend. The works, with each artist presenting one or two pieces, range from Bellaney’s ostensibly abstract expressionist method, Madill’s punctilious, eerie (quasi-futurist) works in graphite and Freeborn’s thrilling acrylic portrayal of dumpster-diving through to Morris-Clark’s compelling, fleshy oil portraits and Brisbane’s graphic renditions of pop-culture icons.

There is no lack of talent, energy, or originality among these artists and this exhibition reveals only a glimpse of their creative facility.


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Conceived as a two-year project, ‘a gallery’ opened in February 2011 at 393 Princes Street, Dunedin and closed in September 2012. Strategically placed south of the center of town nestled between tattoo studios, sex shops and a needle exchange. What was integral in the selection of the gallery space was that it would be able to be viewed from the street through the street level floor to ceiling windows. This would allow the artists showing to be exposed not only to viewers visiting the gallery, but also those walking past, as a gallery was to represent artists that did not fit within the commercial gallery context or the so called experimental project space’s, this would be the best way to expose a particular group of artists selected by gallery curator/manager Jay Hutchinson, artists he respected and admired and felt were not being represented in the gallery scene at the time.

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