Die Cuts & Derivations
31 Jul – 29 Aug 2015
“Slump, debris slides, avalanches all take place within the cracking limits of the brain. The entire body is pulled into the cerebral sediment, where particles and fragments make themselves known as solid consciousness. A bleached and fractured world surrounds the artist. To organize this mess of corrosion into patterns, grids, and subdivisions is an esthetic process that has scarcely been touched.”
(Robert Smithson, A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 1968)
Hopkinson Mossman is pleased to present Die Cuts & Derivations, a solo exhibition of new work by Peter Robinson.
In Die Cuts & Derivations Robinson’s recent felt sculptures flood the gallery. A dense field of multi-coloured lines, grids, circles, and squares almost covers the floor; both the negative and positive results of the die cut process are divided, dispersed and arranged to optical effect.
In recent years Robinson has consistently investigated both the material and metaphoric potential of felt as a medium. In Ritual & Formation (2013), a vast collection of felt sticks (in layers of black, grey and white) played on the eye to vertiginous effect. Robinson’s stick forms evoke a dizzying flood of references: strands of DNA, city towers launching out of smaller buildings, and lines of disintegrating binary code. The work suggests a kind of transmutation where materials are stretched, extended, layered, or compressed beyond their usual parameters. In Die Cuts & Derivations, Robinson exploits felt’s tonal flatness to mimic a matte drawn line (in both two and three dimensions). The use of a single material enables a play of relationships between transparencies and solids, voids and shadows, combined to create an overall composition. The physical structure of felt, formed by pressing fibres together, also echoes a conceptual compression; this new body of work sees many of Robinson’s familiar concerns compounded into Hieroglyphic form.
In Die Cuts & Derivations, the unavoidable art historical associations of felt join the cacophony of influences that play out in the gallery: stacks of felt (Beuys), hanging felt (Morris), heaps or piles (Smithson), grids and cubes (Bochner, Le Witt), cut-outs (Matisse, Andre, Killeen), and, particularly in this show, the structure of the screen (Lichenstein’s Ben-Day or Polke’s raster dots). Robinson proposes art history as an open language, always adapting and adaptable, and with its own twisting web of cause and effect. Questions of language and communication are here traced earlier than Modernism. Robinson’s forms could equally be read through the reductive forms of indigenous artifacts, locally via Maori Taonga or further afield with the Nazca Lines; the ancient giant geoglyphs located in the Nazca desert of southern Peru. Nature’s systems – diagrams of structure, growth, evolution, distribution – provide yet another layer of visual reference.
In Die Cuts & Derivations, there is no central or self-contained focus, as offered by a specific or singular sculptural object, rather Robinson builds a terrain that extends into or beyond the viewer’s peripheral vision. After the initial visual impact, the urge to decipher components and relate each part to the greater system sets up a more direct, focused frame. Die Cuts & Derivations appears to search for a design, or intelligibility. On one hand the work exploits art’s ability to refocus amid the constant streams of information, while on the other hand, it embraces chaos in a seemingly endless chain of experimentation and play.
Peter Robinson (born Ashburton, 1966) studied sculpture at Ilam School of Fine Arts (1985-1989), and now lives and works in Auckland. Robinson’s work has been exhibited extensively in New Zealand and internationally. He was New Zealand’s representative at the 49th Venice Biennale (2001), participated in the 5th Auckland Triennial (2013), 13th Istanbul Biennale (2013), 11th and 18th Biennale of Sydney (1998/2012), and the 8th Baltic Triennale of International Art, Vilnius (2002). Robinson was nominated for the Walters Prize in 2006 for The Humours at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and again in 2008 when he won for his exhibition ACK at Artspace, Auckland.