Bill Culbert Desk Lamp, Crash


Bill Culbert
Desk Lamp, Crash
19 Oct – 17 Nov

Though the uniqueness of the art object has long been the sign of its status, Culbert prefers a kind of familial profusion. In this he replicates the effects of repetition, variation and dispersal that are the world’s ‘literal’ condition – its many similar-but-different sunsets, light bulbs and conversations – while at the same time declaring that these likenesses are, each and every one of them, singular works of art. His restless, gregarious method resembles that of Marcel Duchamp’s vast catalogue of variations and reissues.*

Hopkinson Mossman Wellington is pleased to present Desk Lamp, Crash, a solo exhibition by Bill Culbert.

Desk Lamp, Crash is titled after its central work; a mise-en-scène of disorder, played out through ordinary household objects. Vintage lamps gleaned from junk shops and rubbish dumps, an array of colourful recycled plastic bottles, and florescent tubes, Culbert orchestrates this found material into a sprawling assemblage; an energetic, lyrical crash.

Culbert’s scatters (whether it is a ‘crash’, ‘splash’, or ‘flotsam’) enable a casual but undeniably electric transmission of energy. Discarded objects are given a new lease of life, they stay in circulation, they remain relevant, illuminated in a dynamic transmutation of light and colour. Discussing Incident in Marlowe’s Office (1997), a predecessor of Desk Lamp, Crash, Ian Wedde describes “… a vast complex of tensions between the literal and the paradoxical, between site-specificities both immediate and remembered. Distinctions between different registers of thinking and drifting, material and concept, seem to be suspended.” *

Bill Culbert (1935, Port Chalmers) left New Zealand in 1957 to study at the Royal College of Art, London. He now lives and works between London and the South of France. Culbert has had more than 100 solo exhibitions at major institutions in New Zealand, England, Europe, the USA and Australia. Recent solo exhibitions include: Time Tables, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2018); Colour Theory, Window Mobile, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland (2018); Central Station, The Return, Andata Ritorno, Geneve (2016); Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dole, France (2015); National Art School, Sydney (2015); and Light levels, Château des Adhémar, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Montélimar, France (2014). In 2013 Culbert was New Zealand’s representative at the 55th Venice Biennale.

* Ian Wedde, in Bill Culbert: Making Light Work, AUP, 2009 (p. 18) and in Front Door Out Back, The New Zealand Pavilion, 55th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, 2013 (p. 76)