I met someone recently with a fear of polystyrene foam … …something to do with that queer squeaky noise it makes when it’s rubbed. I was intrigued. It made my fear of heights seem tame. I felt ordinary. This may seem an inane and whimsical introduction to an exhibition that is being hailed as “a great moment in New Zealand art history” but I like to view the world via personal associations and I don’t think Auckland artist, Peter Robinson would mind that.
His current work at New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery – “Snow Ball Blind Time” – is a phenomenal exercise in the creative use of polystyrene – ‘acres’ of the stuff spilling throughout the gallery in a snow-white master-stroke of snappy wit and “comic giganticism” and reading as a single, vast spatial drawing. It’s only the second time since the gallery opened in 1970 that one artist has colonised the whole gallery with a single commissioned work.
It’s all about democracy, freedom, social responsibility, the environment and reckless global consumerist excesses but for me, it’s also about the inherent beauty of an everyday material most of us would overlook. Its pristine, all-white, ethereal loveliness a cunning ‘face’ for Robinson’s ever-wry wit and cutting social criticisms. I love it – but what a nightmare to photograph! www.govettbrewster.com
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