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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 12. 1966.

Fine Arts at Massey Festival

Fine Arts at Massey Festival

The Best Feature of the Arts Festival Fine Arts Exhibition this year was the layout in the relatively modern Palmerston North Gallery. It was obvious that great care had been taken in the hanging and placing of the objects d'art and spacing was excellent. This, however, was not surprising as only just over half the works (approximately fifty) submitted were accepted. Most of the paintings hung were not really exciting.

Once again the "greatness" of the Elam works stood out—stood out for their complete lack of originality and their gimmickiness. Similarly the two Massey exhibits. The Auckland exhibits ranged from lifeless realistic portraits and studies to the absurdities of poor pop art. At first glance the most striking pictures were those of J. R. Haines— Two Roads, Desert Road. These were comprised of black backgrounds with white and red which, together with the shiny surface technique, gave an impressive lighting effect.

Although the whole Auckland group cannot be strictly classed together, there was a certain consistency—a consistency not so much in techniques and media but in styles. The pop art of J. M. Staniford—The Great Nude Mystery No. 1, Atomic Francis—was not very exciting. The paintings have not any life, depth or "message." However, the titles and the prices (50 and 30 guineas respectively) did provide some humour. As for the artist's sculpture, Ramgitoto Lollipop (95 guineas), there was a complete lack not only of aesthetic qualities but also the harsh sublime often attempted by pop artists.

Helen Reid's Face had good use of colour but showed an over-appreciation by the artist, of the work of Miro. Early Cubist Braque seems to have influenced Victoria's sole exhibitor, D. McDonald, in Still Life. The deep greens and browns, however, gave a pleasing result.

The Ilam School also appeared to have a certain consistency—this time in the media and the techniques. Their paintings concentrated on sombre colours and thickly applied paints. Rhikki's metal collage (title not in the catalogue) was by far one of the best works on show. It was comprised of a top third of brown and the bottom two-thirds black, thickly applied in order to hold the pieces of pipe and other metal that were arranged such as to give both life and depth to the work.

In the sculpture side of the exhibition there were more interesting and successful works. Frank Pound's (Elam) Objects, aluminium, glass and metal contained a closely spaced group of objectives as the title suggests. Marble Form, by Bronwyn Taylor (Ilam), was an extremely pleasant, rounded piece and the six bronze sculptures of E. Kindleysides were well executed.

The exhibition as a whole was technically better than last year's but fell down in that the small number on show did not display the great diversity of styles as did last year's. If this is representative of New Zealand Universities' painting then there is obviously a long way for them to go before a high standard is reached. Paintings must not merely be technically well executed, nor must they persist in following overseas "fashions." What is at present lacking in New Zealand painting is a truly national style, displayed for example in the work of Australian Sydney Nolan.—M.J.R.G.