Kate Newby & Paul P, @MICHAEL LETT
As Long as You Want by Kate Newby and Paul P.
2 — 31 October 2020
Michael Lett, 312b Karangahape Rd, Auckland
Michael Lett Gallery presents As Long as You Want, an exhibition of painting, print and sculpture from Kate Newby (Aotearoa New Zealand/USA) and Paul P. (Canada).
The works of Newby and P. share a quality of mediated enquiry and curiosity — an indexical relationship to subjects and environments that favour the ineffability of traces over the didacticism of strict representation. Like asymptotic curves, both artists generate an intense proximity that never quite collides with their subjects, leaving us with objects that carry marks made in the wakes of history.
Bringing together two currents of her recent work, Newby’s etchings and ceramics trace impressions of people and place across time. Handmade ceramic tiles using terracotta drainage pipes as an armature, are structured in vertical lines that cut through the gallery. Crafted in her childhood home at Te Henga (Bethells Beach), the tiles bear the textures and indentations of that place — her brother’s wooden benchtops, her mother’s gardening shed, the concrete floors of a space used as both a workshop and pottery studio at different times. The clay tiles, mixed with sand from Lake Wainamu, were wood and gas-fired over 12 months. In their pilaster-like arrangements, the works index the material, social, cultural, and familial sediments of a site and its inhabitants.
The etchings which accompany Newby’s sculptures follow a process first developed while the artist was on residence in Marfa and San Antonio in 2017. Copper etching plates are laid outside and surrounded with bird seed — any subsequent markings (or lack thereof) are then outside of the artist’s control. Like many of Newby’s works, the etchings are products of an environment as much as they are commentaries about one; the material remnants of an unwitting collaboration between a network of human and non-human actors. “Time itself, not the idea of it, brings these art pieces from a non-state to a presence”
The prints in As Long as You Want were produced from plates placed in coastal locations: Te Henga, Kaiwaka, and Puawai Bay.
Paul P. is a Canadian painter whose intimate canvases draw oblique lines towards and away from a corporeal queer sensuality. His portraits are cropped from gay erotic magazines produced in the period between the advent of gay liberation and the surfacing of the AIDS crisis. Pulled from this slade between two radically different eras of gay visibility, P.’s subjects are rendered with a symbolist’s mix of fantasy and fidelity that suffuses each face with the melancholy and apprehension of axial stasis — figures caught between danger and desire. The portraits are joined by architectural extractions, landscapes, and monochromes that further produce an askance vision of a historical place.
Newby and P. first met in 2016, and have operated in overlapping artistic networks, both spending time as artist-in-residence at Fogo Island Arts and holding exhibitions at Lulu in Mexico City. As Long as You Want is the second joint presentation of Newby and P.’s work, following a showing at the 2018 Independent art fair, New York.
Best Place to get the Routine Done (detail) by Kate Newby, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and Fine Arts, Sydney.
Centaurs on the Beach (installation view) by Paul P., 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Maureen Paley, London.