Orexart has been exhibiting emerging, mid-career and established artists from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific since 1990. The gallery’s mission is to build the careers of its established artists and encourage the development of promising newcomers.
Located in an industrial space in Arch Hill in Auckland’s Putiki Street art precinct, the gallery’s large, light-filled exhibition space and a smaller, more intimate viewing room, give Orexart the flexibility to present a broad range of exhibitions and projects.
Director, Rex Armstrong brings years of experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to the gallery’s front of house. He operates with the invaluable assistance of Communications Manager, Kim Shaw and gallery mascots, Scottish terriers Robson and Gladys.
When we visited they were showing Matthew Browne ‘Jouska’. The exhibition title takes inspiration from a neologism in John Koenig’s recently created Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
A web-based lexicon designed to fill gaps in contemporary language, the dictionary comprises newly invented words that define strange social nuances and unique experiences. ‘Jouska’, for example, is ‘a hypothetical dialogue played out in one’s mind.
The adaptation of ‘Jouska’ for Browne’s exhibition, and other words selectively plucked from the dictionary for the painting titles, continues the artist’s intuitive play with ideas and processes moving in the space between the familiar and unfamiliar, the conscious and subconscious. A freshly painted canvas, like a newly invented word, moves from the unknown to the known.
Here, a hypothetical dialogue is offered, opening in the space between ‘assumed meaning and open reception of the viewer. Meanwhile the formal relationship between shape, line and colour on the canvas anchors this dialogue at the two-dimensional surface of each work.
Rather than prescribing meaning, the works invite different readings, while denying any one categorical conclusion. In other words, Browne sets up multiple horizons where meanings and potentialities can emerge through individual insight, feeling or memory.
During the last twenty years Browne’s painting practice has consistently returned to the question of the artistic subconscious as expressed through the painted surface: painting is a way to render visible images and sensations normally residing in the unconscious.
Matthew Browne’s work harnesses both the painterly and the theoretical. As an exponent of a contemporary expressionistic style, Browne stems from an artistic tradition that originally privileged the unmediated action of painting as a direct translation of aesthetic thought. However, Browne’s work is more calculated reaction than spontaneous, unmediated gesture.
In the co-existent forms and luminous colours of his characteristic works,the act of painting itself is celebrated through the careful application of bands of colour to create tone, depth and emotional substance.
Browne was born in London in 1959. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours at the Camberwell School of Art and Crafts in 1982 and a Master of Fine Arts with Honours at AucklandUniversity’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 2000.
A committed educator in life drawing, monoprint and colour theory, Browne now teaches the ‘Painters Studio’ course at Art station. He has held numerous solo and group shows throughout New Zealand, was a finalist in the 2007 Wallace Trust Art Awards, and his work is included in various private collections both in New Zealand and internationally, notably in the permanent collection of the Royal Overseas League,London.