Standing in front of Garry Currin’s paintings is an emotional experience.
Currin's landscapes are not allegories conveying meaning through
symbolic representation, nor do they seek to imitate reality.
Rather they employ, in the fashion of lyrical abstraction, the
emotive and expressive qualities of colour, shape and brushwork to
capture first the artist's feelings, and subsequently the viewer's.
Landscapes appear to be the subject, yet the dark shades, the
atmospheric smudges of light and shadow carry a cipher of another
world that shifts between experience, memory, and dreaming.
Although man is evident he is not present in these landscapes where
light plays, shifting and elusive through pale veils, teasing the
connections between eye and memory, tempting us to capture the
sense of a real place, a real time in the shapes of hills and
waterways. Part of the mystery lies in the ambiguity of form, as
visual rhythms capture our need to identify evidence of our place
in the landscape … a row of fence posts, a road? an abandoned
building? … exposed momentarily in the light, landmarks like
staging posts in our imagination.
Appreciating that there is 'nothing new under the sun', Currin's
search for painterly truth lies in his working processes. He
paints, he says, "from the inside out" approaching the energy of
the moment listening to the music of Toru Takemitsu (a Japanese
composer influenced by the work of John Cage, Claude Debussy and
traditional Japanese music). The process of painting, for Currin,
is an exploratory sensing rather than a directional questing. The
paintings that result from this process enable viewers to step
outside themselves and into another world.
Behind Currin's paint application lies a history of New
Zealand's art. If we are looking for signs of our painterly
traditions then Petrus van der Velden's evocation of the sublime
(epitomised in his images of Otira Gorge), or hints of John Gully's
somewhat Arcadian landscapes, a certain darkness of the New Zealand
psyche implied by Colin McCahon, and even Toss Woollaston's
"mountainous scrumblings" mutter quietly
behind the scenes.
But in the end Currin's paintings provide us with a visual
negotiation of man's subtle and shifting relationships with the
land, with history and with our sense of the spiritual.
Catalogue excerpt by Jacqueline Aust
 Eggleton, David. "Various Distances
Apart." Art New Zealand 38, Winter (2011): p20.
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