Occupying the shape-shifting space between portraiture and abstraction, the paintings of Auckland-based artist Julian Hooper refuse to sit still.
When we speak a few weeks out from Julian Hooper’s September exhibition at Ivan Anthony in Auckland, he still hasn’t settled on a title for the show. We both agree that a good title can’t be forced.
It becomes part of the artwork, adding to the layers of meaning, but as Hooper explains, a good title doesn’t “blow the cover” of the work. It is suggestive without giving away too much; it “keeps the ideas rolling and skipping rather than setting them down.”
Hooper’s turns of phrase — both when we speak, and when deployed as titles — are much like his paintings: lyrical yet considered. His most recent show, exhibited in April 2016 at Sydney’s Gallery 9, was titled Lazy Racer. It’s an offbeat, poetic and evocative paradox, descriptors that would not go astray in defining the paintings themselves: a collection of layered, semi-abstract visual labyrinths. The works evolved over weeks and months, strata building up and being stripped away to get to what Hooper describes as that “surprisingly successful accident, one that seems more right or more interesting than what I can will into the painting.”
The paintings from Lazy Racer are dense with intersecting and overlapping colours and shapes, arranged in such a way that the eye can rove around endlessly, picking up different threads on each round. Each painting is like a riddle, to be examined detective-like as one decodes and interprets a rich matrix of symbols and clues. Thriller (2016) is replete with art-historical allusions, spread across a canvas, which skips between areas of glossy opacity and matte translucency. Strange columns, with amorphous white forms along... Subscribe to read this article in full