Grimy and wonderful teen spirit Reviewed by Mark Amery. Dominion May 23, 1998

"Routines" by Victor Berezovsky and "Group" by James Cousin. Brian Queenin Gallery, Wellington 1998

Young artists Victor Berezovsky and James Cousins take the ordinary in life to make something extraordinary.

Actions 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.

A 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 The colour of nicotine-stained fingers decorating hopelessly outdated design; one wouldn’t be surprised to discover that this was the outpouring of a man who hadn’t left his bedroom for 10 years.

Berezovsky 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.

James 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 image.

Each 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.

In 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 painting.

Cousins 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.




ęcopyright Victor Berezovsky 2006-2017