Moray Gallery

John Z Robinson & Robert P. West: Seeing Things

2-23 July 2021

The memorable Covid 19 Lockdown is already more than 12 months in our past. We have lived through it. We always experience things to the background ticking of the clock.

The Watching Autumn pictures displayed here were done during my enforced time at home, from the safety of our bubble, and chart the course of the goldening month as it showed itself in our garden.

The other two sets of images are, to use a Dennis Potter line, "ploughing the same old field again".

Florals and young men are both symbols for the fleeting nature of our existence. A couple of blinks and they are gone. 

All of these images have been made on a Samsung Tablet and printed with conservation inks on conservation paper, in Dunedin. -John Z Robinson

“With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear.  Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else”.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

The images in this exhibition grew out of the large water colours that I previously exhibited at the Moray Gallery in 2019 with the title “Broad Bay Boogie Woogie”.  Using the square as a starting point and basis for the work, all of the works are loosely (some more than others) based on the concept of an imaginary city. 

In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, the aged emperor Kubla Khan listens to tales told by the explorer Marco Polo on the cities he has visited on his many travels.  The book explores the process of imagination through the descriptions of a variety of fantastic and invented cities such as Valrada, Eutropia, Pyhrra, Ersilia, Argia, Olinda, Leonia.

The larger watercolour works on canvas board have titles taken from the names of some of Calvino’s Invisible Cities, although to me they also resemble pixelated close ups of unidentifiable objects, QR codes, computer viruses, or an early form of 20th century abstract paintings. 

The smaller works, including the drawings, contain the dotted and continuous lineal motifs that I have used in previous work.  The lines connect disparate and isolated shapes that work to make visible the previously unseen – a Klingon ship throwing off its cloaking device. -Robert West