Speed, fast cars and music to go deaf by…..teenage male fixations are plumbed in Transmission, a new exhibition by Wellington artist Robert Cherry, opening at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery on December 14.
Cherry re-works the slick racing stripes and colour combinations of ‘mean machines’ like Mustangs and Valiant Chargers, to produce a series of minimalist abstract paintings with titles such as Teenage Head, Alvin Purple, Ignition and Speed King. The paintings are constructed using sign-writing vinyl and car paint, some having been made in local car paint shops, to his designs.
Transmission, is the first in a programme of exhibitions at the new Gallery to be presented under the banner of ‘360’.
This programme is sponsored by the Wellington design company Designworks, said Paula Savage, director of City Gallery Wellington. The programme title - ‘360 – a full perspective on Wellington Art’- reflects the exciting diversity of art which is appearing in this new space.
In the nine years that I have been director of the City Gallery, I’ve seen an enormous increase in the level of artistic activity in Wellington. There are many artists and designers coming to the capital to take up teaching positions, as well as younger artists whose work is of a high quality.
The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery opened last month as a tribute to arts patron and former Labour Party President, the late Michael Hirschfeld. The new Gallery, on the ground floor of City Gallery Wellington, shows recent work and artists’ projects by Wellington artists, with exhibitions changing monthly.
Cherry, who does not have a formal art background, says he ‘found’ painting in much the same way as he found music as a teenager: I make paintings in the same way as some guy comes up with a guitar solo, he says.
There is that connection with cars as phallic, seductive and sculptural, he says. But more importantly, there’s the speed thing. In a car you have an isolated environment which gives you freedom, and a false sense of control and independence. You’re sitting there while the world speeds by, trying to make sense of the chaos. It’s similar to what you’re doing as an artist.
Rather than being about cars and heavy metal music, Cherry aims to capture the exhilarating experience that these phenomena can bring about - the lust and obsessiveness of teenage times, as he describes it.
I was into heavy metal music as a teenager. It was the first time I experienced transcendence, it took me out of the real world.
Robert Cherry’s solo exhibition, Westie Modernism Eastern Thought, was staged at the Victory Snooker Saloon earlier this year. Two works, Cobra and Trans Am, are on display at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, until Sunday 5 December. Transmission runs until January 14.
Cherry says the new Michael Hirschfeld Gallery gives artists freedom to develop projects. Changing the shows each month makes it a very dynamic space, he says.