GHOST IN THE MACHINE
Ramon Robertson, Amanda Wilkinson
& Kaye McGarva
Muse Gallery, Havelock North
10 January - 9 February
Written and reviewed by Rosheen FitzGerald
The precise relationship between mind and body has been hotly debated by philosophers and explored by artists for centuries. Ryle coined the phrase ‘the ghost in the machine’ to highlight the absurdity of separating thought from physicality, the inner world from the outer. Koestler expanded the idea in his book of the same name, theorising that we are all simultaneously individuals as well as parts of the whole.
This complicated philosophical premise is the basis of a new and exciting show, at Muse Gallery until 9 February. Three artists spanning the length of the North Island each produced five vastly different individual works which nonetheless come together as a cohesive unit, conversing with one another, informing each others’ approaches and techniques.
Gallery owner, Kaye McGarva, shows large paintings, at once immediately recognisable yet dramatically different. Experimenting with her method, she uses angular sprays to produce pieces that invoke both crumpled fabric and topographical texture. In a pared back palette, these new works represent a departure for the artist, innovating and evolving to evoke a new softness, a renewed humanity. They hold a pleasing depth of emotion heretofore unseen in McGarva’s work, hinting at something rippling beneath the surface.
Wellington artist, Amanda Wilkinson, picks up the theme, speaking to light and shadow in works that are both tightly prescribed while hinting at chaos. Texture is present in her use of linen as medium, conversing with McGarva’s work. A strong architectural presence belie her fascination with form as well as her industrial design background.
These themes are expanded in Auckland based Scot and former architectural advisor, Ramon Roberston’s three dimensional works. Grounded on concrete plinths and cast in plaster, these somewhat disconcerting forms juxtapose the mechanics of construction with achingly vulnerable commentary on the human condition. Surface and Cloud Field Tiles were produced especially for this show, in response to McGarva’s work, continuing the conversation played out around the gallery in front of our eyes.
This thoughtfully curated show, in keeping with the philosophy on which it is based, deserves to be viewed as a whole. Yet each piece retains its own voice creating a strange and beautiful chorus we can feel as well as see.