Grimy and wonderful teen spirit Reviewed by Mark Amery. Dominion
May 23, 1998
by Victor Berezovsky and "Group" by James Cousin. Brian
Queenin Gallery, Wellington 1998
artists Victor Berezovsky and James Cousins take the ordinary
in life to make something extraordinary.
and images that are so commonplace that they're passed over by
most artists as below the banal.
Berezovsky's work smells of what Nirvana called teen spirit, the
feeling of a generation with all the means of saying things but
with nothing to say. Berezovsky douses old furniture in domestic
brown, and sketches in paint on cheap china plates the doodles
of someone looking not further than their armpit.
There are Munch-like, introspective self-portraits, the artist
pulling faces, details of routines like shaving and brushing teeth,
and explorations of his body parts with the brush.
morose face peers out from a television screen demanding entertainment.
Boredom reigns, and in this exhibition there appears no escape
from the interior of a house and all its grime. The colour of
nicotine-stained fingers decorating hopelessly outdated design;
one wouldn’t be surprised to discover that this was the
outpouring of a man who hadn’t left his bedroom for 10 years.
not only displays a sure sense of aesthetic and vision, but is
able to express it with artistic dexterity and skill. He avoids
the local art mythology of the golden landscape, instead making
these moments domestic drudgery precious, and providing us in
turn with something rather fresh and wonderful in contemporary
art's refracted picture of reality.
Cousins is an artist who strikes me as striving rather consciously
to find something fresh to say with an individual way of saying
it. If anything, you wonder if stylistically he tries too hard.
This is because Cousins work hangs on a clear structural formula
that tightly juxtaposes twin streams of modern art. His trademark
is to divide his canvas into two parts: one part abstract, one
part representational with a colour field juxtaposed by a super-realistic
colour field and image then works in relation to the next canvas
as components in the set and each image is smudged sideways as
if it is in the process of being scanned.
Group these sets appear to be passport photos, collections of
headshots of ordinary people nervously trying to be respectable
for the camera click.
The result is disturbing and you become conscious of the awkwardness
of being represented as a character whether it by photograph or
work questions the value the value of technology in capturing
image. His juicy colour fields make us aware that these images
are no more real than the material in which they are painted.