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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 11. 22 July 1970

Art Review — The John Drawbridge Selection—On display in Library last week

Art Review

The John Drawbridge Selection—On display in Library last week.

John Drawbridge is one of the leading figures in the New Zealand art scene, being best known, perhaps, for his prints. His experience in international competitions and exhibitions gives his work an assurance and sophisticat lacking in other New Zealand artists.

John Drawbridge painting

All Red and Mainly Blue are carefully worked out tonal statements. Mainly Blue departs from the rather more static All Red in the use of contrasting orange and red which bring the blues forward in some areas. Nothing definite emerges from these patterns. The restrained, carefully defined squares also give a mosaic effect.

These two didn't appeal to me directly. 1 feel that they are rather conscious exercises, though interesting in the different densities of areas. Some parts of All Red have a glowing incandescence while other areas are 'dead'.

20,000 ft and 35,000 ft deal with subtly shaded and highlighted surfaces. The areas of shade go with and across the lines. The effect, though, isn't accidentally beautiful. There are carefully defined areas within the picture frame that give and indefinable shapes. 35,000 ft is, 1 think, the most thoughtful and interesting work in this exhibition. The wide horizontal band that imposes itself over the surface and overlaps onto the blue border gives another dimension to he background. The background recedes further, its coldness and distance already emphasised by the heavy metallic blue. 35,000 ft extends the approach used in 20,000 ft in that it is not just a mere examination of texture and tone patterns but also explores their relationships of colour and shape.

Nos. 5 and 6 are again deceptively simple. View of O explores the relationship between shapes by taking a Familial shape and distorting it. It explores, too, the relationship of the contrasts red and green, disturbing the expected balance.

In Red, Green-Screen the areas are partially obscured by a nearly opaque textured screen, which shows interesting tone changes. The vibrating effect of the juxtaposition of red and green is modified to a softer combination.

These paintings show several techniques, all of which explore some of the possibilities of surface in terms of texture, colour and shape. The illusions created show how deep the surface is. None of these paintings strike me as being very provocative or avant garde.

I think these paintings, as a group, are compelling for their complexity and honesty. The variety gives a fairly good idea of the range of John Drawbridge's work.

John Drawbridge painting