Colzato and McNeill combine to present a diverse palette of creativity at The Incubator Gallery; showing until the end of May 2015
As instructed by the invitation, I rug up warm and pop my beret in my bag. It’s been raining in Tauranga over the last day or two and water hangs onto my windscreen as I drive along Cameron Road then turn down 17th Avenue towards the Historic Village – home of the inimitable Incubator Art Collective – for the formal May 8th opening of the joint exhibition by Jimi Colzato and Doreen McNeill: “View2 a mixed media exhibition featuring two very different artists.”
As usual, part of the crowd, impervious to the late autumn chill is standing outside the large former barn that is now a collection of working artists’ studios and exhibition gallery. I greet Rupal Mehta of The Theatre of Women (ARTbop alternative’s, Dhaivat Mehta’s talented Mother). Rupal is appropriately furcoated (and yes it’s fun fur). While Dhaivat is telling of his discussion with Collective member Kristian Lomath, Rupal is telling me about the plans for the next Theatre of Women event.
Inside the large doorway on the left is a drinks table and opposite an arrangement of dips and nibbles. Photographer Baz Mantis, New York dressed, is “working the room”. I see Garden & Art Festival Director, John Beech deep in conversation. I comment on Nicky Baxter’s “retro but so now” grey and white patterned poncho. There’s talk, chatter and laughter. I join the group in the gallery space. Against the violently white walls are the works of McNeill and Colzato.
ARTbop readers will have read my previous review of McNeill’s work after I had seen the patterns of colour of the earth visible from high altitude photography. I suddenly understood McNeill’ work and its geographic connotations. Tonight McNeill is McNeill. There is diversity of colour, shape and form but the works are almost all recognisable as McNeill.
There is a smaller white mixed media – textured work on the left hand corner of the rear wall, I love it and at the opposite end is a work in sand and earth tones referencing my Central Otago landscape memory banks. The “painted sketches” – small A4 sized works, are particularly reasonably priced and provide art lovers with the possibility of original art. Actually, the whole group would have been a fabulous and decorative buy. (The following week Simone Anderson tells me all the sketches have sold and there’s another set up on display – way to go!). Favourite, favourites – the realistically volcanically coloured, explosive work and the hard turquoise and tan work perched on the sitting room wall – they would be described as abstract but they are particularly reminiscent of high altitude earth images.
Jimi Colzato’s work is a very different kettle of fish. I’ve met Jimi before at Lightwave Gallery and know of his wide range of creative talents and abilities. Jimi is also a pleasant conversationalist. I start at the sitting room wall – this rough unpainted section of the sitting room wall has become the “overflow” exhibition space. Here hang a highly shellaced urban skyline scape; a small and beautifully executed surreal image of a one-eyed, bondage nippled, armlet clad, octopus wearing young woman juxtaposed against a precisely executed image of a traditionally clad, white-faced geisha. It’s an ironic juxtaposition of styles but particularly revealing about the constrained roles assigned to women.
Round the corner in the main gallery space is a line of Colzato, their difference and diversity almost squaring off at the homogeneity of style of the McNeill’s opposite. There are two Colzato representations of significant Indian Gods. There’s an elephant and gorilla in charcoal, embellished with vivid gold and red Indian styled designs. They are absolutely beautifully done and I’m not at all surprised to see a large red sticker beside the elephant. Between these two dramatic images is a more monochromatic work of a decorated vase – it seems to shrink into the wall in the presence of its associates. But when I go back to the Incubator some days later without the crowds, the noise and the glare, this work (also gold embellished) just glows.
There is a large, beautifully executed, mixed-media image of an ancient warrior. I tell Colzato I “don’t like it” but I’m impressed by the style and combinations of materials and techniques. It’s superbly done.
Colzato has also hung several abstract works; they reference McNeill. One (003) reminds me of the exposed walls of the historic Rotorua Museum – part of the work is hard and smooth the other highly reflective is lumpy, rock-like “organic”. Jimi tells me it’s created from acrylics, oils, plaster and polyurethane foam. I have to overcome my childlike wish to touch it.
If you’re interested in visiting the Incubator you can do so in conjunction with the regular markets organised by the Te Puna and Bethlehem Lions Clubs. Every first and third Sunday of the month there is a traditional village market in and around the Historic Village.There’s everything you can think of for sale from trash to treasure and original art. The Incubator is open during the market. It’s a hive of activity with not only visitors into the gallery space but also regular “working artists” Nick Eggleston and Angela Croft creating original works in public view. Collective members and their children add to the hustle, bustle and market ambiance of the morning. Come down for breakfast, morning tea or lunch and enjoy a different kind of Sunday morning in mid-town Tauranga.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary is the founding and current editor of ARTbop.