In our Post-modern world purely abstract art has faded somewhat from the scene. That there is still energy in abstraction is convincingly shown by the current exhibition by Tomislav Nikolic brought from Sydney by Andrew Jensen. It is magical with an element of mystery in its making.
Narrative or political art provides easy vocabulary for a writer. Abstract art is much more difficult to discuss except perhaps by borrowing musical terms: harmony, rhythm, tonality, even grace notes. Borrowing for this exhibition must include: sonorous, symphonic, lyrical, harmony and even dissonance.
All of the paintings are either solidly square or rectangular. Within their regular shape they are always framed and the frame, often candy coloured, is an integral part of the painting. In one case the edge of the painting itself is red and projects behind the frame. The narrow band of red created reflects on the wall.
The principle part of all the paintings is an area dense as stone but luminous as light. The extraordinary density is obtained by mixing marble dust with the pigment. Sometimes faint variations of tone are apparent in the depths of the colour.
Appearing at the edge of this solid tablet is underpainting, not just one shade but a variety of transparent colours that appear to underlie the major form and resonate with it.
The whole is usually isolated from the wide, elaborate frame by a channel which may be lined with white gold or, somewhat brighter, gold leaf and bands of colour. This is framing within the framing and when the eye arrives at the outside moulded vivid frame itself, the brightness of the colour or in one case black, rings, just off-key, with the major forms and energizes them.
Only one sumptuous painting breaks with the solidity of the concept by dissolving the centre into shades of green that suggest a glade of tone of infinite depth.
These paintings are the culmination of a long period of development which left many fine paintings along the way.
The long title given to every painting suggests that by contemplation we may achieve the same sort of effortless serenity that the works themselves convey.
Fox Jensen McCory Gallery, Putiki Street, Newton
© T J McNamara, 2017
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