Shane Cot­ton
Smashed Myth

21st August – 25th September 2010
Anna Schwartz Gallery Carriageworks

The paint­ings of Shane Cot­ton offer a com­plex and ambigu­ous gath­er­ing of clues… towards mean­ing, rather than the illus­tra­tion of a sin­gle idea. indeed, the images and paint­ed text appear to ric­o­chet across their sky scapes, some­times near­ly crash­ing or often falling – but arbi­trar­i­ly (and odd­ly) stilled’ in space. The paral­ysed birds mim­ic move­ment but are utter­ly motion­less. images exist with­in a kind of realised trau­ma, frozen (as in the paint­ings of Magritte) just for a moment on their inevitable voy­age. The artist allows us a glimpse – before the vor­tex again swal­lows the whole.

The shifts in per­spec­tive and the con­tra­dic­tions appar­ent in the solid­i­ty, still­ness and weight’ of the images on the one hand and their implied move­ment and fragili­ty on the oth­er pro­voke an emo­tion­al as well as a con­cep­tu­al investigation. 

First­ly, we are moved by the per­fec­tion and bril­liance of the sur­faces of these paint­ings and the bravu­ra of the artist’s great tech­ni­cal skill. haunt­ing is the beau­ty of the images – the exquis­ite­ly exe­cut­ed birds, the won­der­ful­ly coloured tar­gets and the del­i­cate, jew­el-like sav­agery of the shrunk­en heads. 

How­ev­er, the artist is engaged with more than the con­crete super­struc­ture of the works. he is drawn to explore the com­plex and divi­sive his­to­ry of his peo­ple – indeed all peo­ple – with nar­ra­tives to do with migra­tion, coloni­sa­tion, resis­tance, reli­gion, rage, iden­ti­ty and war. These ideas are man­i­fest in his com­plex evo­ca­tions and allude to his own upbring­ing with­in the con­flict­ed envi­ron­ment of con­tem­po­rary New Zealand – where lan­guage, iden­ti­ty and own­er­ship remain ongo­ing anx­i­eties for the inhab­i­tants of this con­test­ed country. 

Shane Cotton’s works evoke notions of colo­nial impo­si­tion, reli­gious imper­a­tive and mat­ters of move­ment, con­flict and change – they reflect a mul­ti­tude of truths. 

Images

Shane Cot­ton

Smashed Myth, 2010
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Shane Cot­ton

Smashed Myth, 2010
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Shane Cot­ton

Smashed Myth, 2010
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Shane Cot­ton

Smashed Myth, 2010
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks