press release

Preview: Tuesday 1 May, 5-7pm

What’s so great about fluorescent colour?...Fluorescent colour is seen 75% sooner than conventional colour! Fluorescent colour is three times brighter than regular colour! Your eyes go back to fluorescent colour for a second look 59% of the time!

(Publicity material from ‘Day-Glo’ in the 1930s)

Gow Langsford Galley is proud to present In Fluorescents: a group show exploring flora and fluoro in the work of five contemporary artists from New Zealand, Australia and the U.S.A. Artists include: Tim Maguire, Sara Hughes, Karl Maughan, Reuben Paterson and Jeff Koons. Selected on the basis of their iconic contemporary use of floral imagery, the approach taken by each of the artists to the subject in terms of medium, technique and colour, negates associations of the floral with the purely traditional, and provides the viewer with a psychedelic visual experience that begs that second look.

In Fluorescents is a play on both the idea of a study in fluorescent colour, and the phonetic equivalent of inflorescence - meaning a group of flowers of a branch, or the arrangement of buds on a stem. As the title implies, intense (fluoro) colour is key to the show, as well as the subject of flora. Flowers, of course have long held a position of pre-eminence in the history of art, from the symbolic use of flowers in Medieval and Renaissance works, to the iconic water lilies of Monet and the enlarged flower forms of Georgia O’Keefe. ‘Fluorescence’, on the other hand, (though first described by George G. Stokes in 1852) began as we know it in everyday life only in the 1930s, with the invention of ‘day-glo’ paint and fluorescent clothing by amateur magician Bob Switzer. Perhaps the ultimate conjunction of the fluoro and the floral in recent times was reached in 2002, with the creation by the Experimental Institute of Floriculture in San Remo of the world’s first genetically modified fluorescent flower, which emitted an eerie green glow when exposed to ultra-violet light. (This effect was achieved by injecting a large white bluebell with a gene taken from a Pacific Ocean jellyfish).

Within the exhibition, presenting a range of works that combine the element of fluorescence with the subject of the floral, offers a range of exciting contemporary works by artists who explore colour through form, and form through colour.

Tim Maguire is one of Australia’s most internationally recognised contemporary artists. This is the first time that Maguire has exhibited in a New Zealand Dealer Gallery, and the first time his hugely ambitious digital prints (created by a combination of painterly and digital techniques) will be shown internationally. Six prints combine to make one work, a work which is stunningly vibrant and almost overwhelming in scale.

Like Maguire, the work of Sara Hughes offers a combination of the machine made, (or technology based) and the handmade. Flower House, (2007) consists of a mass of flowers, each flower die-cut, but hand painted. The work represents a continuation and development of concerns within Hughes’ wider practice, including an interest in colour and optical theory. The vibrant colour field of flowers in the work creates, as critic Bridie Lonie comments, ‘deliberate eye candy’.

Artist Karl Maughan, who paints some of New Zealand’s most iconic floral images has developed his trademark style into a more stylized and flattened arrangement of forms in his work for the exhibition. Zig Zag Road (2007) offers a profusion of painterly purple flowers on a fluorescent yellow background. Likewise, New Zealand artist Reuben Paterson has drawn on his continuing interest in pattern and colour to create 5 ink and coloured pencil sketches created especially for this exhibition. These works fluoresce much like his trade-mark glitter but with a shift out of focus.

American artist Jeff Koons is known on the international stage for his introduction of the traditionally ‘kitsch’ into the high art arena. Inflatable Balloon Flower (1997) is an antithesis to the flower in nature, both in terms of its size, lending the work a physical presence, and its non-biodegradable medium. Koons’ flowers have featured in several recent international floral exhibitions. His work embodies the notion that the subject of the floral can be consistently re-examined and reinterpreted while continuing to surprise.

Tim Maguire, Karl Maughan, Sara Hughes, Jeff Koons, Reuben Paterson