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Tyne Gordon Double Dribble at Ilam Campus Gallery

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Tyne Gordon, Double Dribble
Andrew Paul Wood

Tyne Gordon is a Christchurch-based Ilam graduate and 2018 Olivia Spencer Bower fellow, and Double Dribble at the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts Ilam Campus Gallery represents the fruition of freedom to work afforded by that OSB year. It’s a very good show and promises great things in the future as Gordon’s practice continues to evolve. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2015, Gordon has had an impressive track record including a major show at CoCA and twice being a finalist in the national Parkin Prize for drawing.

The work, sculpture and painting, functions on two levels. Firstly it has great visual appeal in the organic strength of the sculptural forms and their indescribable colours ― often to comedic effect as in the kitschy miniature fountains, crusted in paint, pretentiously poised on their carpets of AstroTurf, accompanied by a vaguely New Age monologue on an ancient cassette tape Walkman urging us to be mindful of our physical bodies and oneness with the material world.

That narrative is, perhaps, the clue to understanding the second layer, altogether more existential; it’s an absurdist exercise in ambiguous relationships between the mortal flesh, the natural world, and the artifice of art, and water seems to be the thread connecting it all. The messy, viscerally pink interiors of the fountains could be read as metaphors for the body, or an anticlimactic evocation of the lost Pink and White Terraces. Some of the paintings on the wall, of a flawed and funky piece with their frames, are as much disembodied body parts ―nipples, pimples, obscure genitalia ―as they are stylised imaginary landscapes. Other paintings move between desolate landscape and pure abstraction.

It is brilliant work, highly engaging, and open to nearly any reading you might want to apply to it. Is it a feminist parody of Romanticism and its predominantly male dominated manifestation in modernist art, the transcendent ambitions and minimalist plinthed forms of those movements bogged down in the lurid or murky colours and melting shapes of putrescence and abjection? It’s so messy and superficially random yet calculated and carefully contrived. It’s ugly, but it’s beautiful. I love the cartoonishness of it all. It’s conceptual, but it’s also a space containing characterful, stand-alone objects that invite responses ranging from empathy to laughter, and often both. Art is far too important a thing to take too seriously, and this work embodies that perfectly.

Tyne Gordon, Double Dribble
Ilam Campus Gallery, School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury
22 February – 22 March 2019


  1. Tyne Gordon, Double Dribble, installation image: Lucinda Webber

Tyne Gordon Double Dribble at Ilam Campus Gallery

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