Window on the world of shadows

21:08, Jun 03 2014
'Working blind' has not hindered artist Andrew Beck in his investigation of shadows for the Open Window at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Govett-Brewster's Open Window has transformed again - this time into an abstract sundial.

The new installation, Shadow Subsets, by Auckland- based artist Andrew Beck, marks time by capturing the movement of light and shadows.

A shadow in black oil paint denotes a particular time on a particular day.

Placed next to the shadow, a steel bar (casting its own shadow), and a black-and-white, long- exposure photograph (depicting an abstracted shadow of the same steel bar) join the artist's drawing, photography and sculpture practice through the element of light.

Beck planned the installation from Auckland using images of the gallery space sent to him by curator Meredith Robertshawe.

"I had a brief overview of how the sun had been about three to four months ago.


"With other installations I've been able to see the space and be in it, so in that sense I was working blind with this work."

The primary concern in Beck's work is light, having studied photography then made what he calls a "weird transition" into art.

He grew frustrated with photography because it's not a physical thing, but a representation.

Now he combines different elements - drawing, sculpture and photography - to create works that are more tangible, although his photographic perspective remains an influence.

"I'm always concerned with light and how it affects the space."

Robertshawe chooses artists with site-specific work who are able to utilise the small and restricting space offered by Open Window.

"It's to push the boundaries of space and encourage artists to use it as a starting point not an end point."

The previous exhibition, Crystallised by artist Carmen Rogers, used broken glass from the demolished Govett-Brewster to build crystal forms she secretly added to, giving the impression they were growing.

Before that, artist Ryan Ballinger's performance art piece Fartlek saw him run laps around the gallery site, 728 in total, one for each day the gallery was closed for construction.

Beck is a 2010 MFA graduate from Massey University School of Fine Arts, Wellington, and has recently exhibited in Christchurch, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Melbourne and Palmerston North.

This year he was selected for New Positions - an international sponsorship programme for artists at Art Cologne 2014 in Germany.

"I was the only guy from New Zealand there. A lot [of the artists] were more established than me, in their 30s. They had some pretty impressive work."

There was more understanding in Europe of themes he references, but he thinks viewers here can appreciate his work too.

"Unlike paintings on a wall, I'm trying to make work that extends into reality.

"The steel rod is ubiquitous. You find it on a building site not just in a gallery.

"Hopefully I can start making work that elicits a response no matter what your background is."

Beck's childhood was spent in Manitoba, Canada, where his father worked as an underwater welder and his mother a kindergarten teacher, then the Caribbean where his father ran a scuba diving business, then finally New Zealand.

Taranaki Daily News