The Primitive Bird Group: Clare Reilly "Austral Paintings" and Max Podstolski "Strips" at the Left Bank Art Gallery, Greymouth, 4-30 April 2002
Review by Wayne Lorimer, Greymouth Evening Star, April 11th 2002, p. 5.
This month, in the main exhibition space of the Left Bank
Art Gallery, sees the joint exhibition of partners Clare Reilly
and Max Podstolski artistically known as "The Primitive
Their work shares in common a colourful palette that creates
vibrant works of art, together with the oft-expressed kinship
with bird forms (hence their moniker). Other than that, however,
their two styles couldn't be more dissimilar.
With Reilly's "Austral Paintings" we find someone
whose work is infused with a deeply personal response to environmental
issues. Presented within these paintings is a heartfelt combination
of celebration tinged with trepidation. Celebration of our abundance
of flora and fauna overshadowed by the trepidation that some
day this will all change.
Work such as Entrapment and Waiting (Sudden Falling
Night) cleverly juxtapose the beautifully rendered landscapes
with the tension that the birds create within the space. Within
all of the works, the irrevocable mark of "man" rears
its ugly head, changing the natural balance of things and opening
the door to an uncertain future.
Reilly's highly pictorial, and in stages semi-surrealist style,
suits the brevity and sincerity expressed within the work. "Austral
Paintings" are a series of large, beautiful paintings that
offer an intensely vibrant facade, while hiding a darkly serious
intent that bubbles just beneath the surface.
Podstolski's "Strips" come from the other side of
the art historical tracks responding to Klee, Picasso,
Haring and other modern primitivist's use of African, Pacific
and Aboriginal iconography. Podstolski's works on paper (in a
series of unified strips) offer up a coded map of the human psyche
a roadmap of shared experiences at a deeply subconscious
level. We are then simply dropped off in the middle and allowed
to negotiate our way out by creating our own stories and associations
as the work unfolds.
Highly graphical and superbly colourful, Podstolski's strips
amuse, bemuse, entice and enlighten in the same way that early
Neolithic cave paintings do. We know (or at least assume that
we know) that these works must mean something indeed they
call to us from our very earliest (primitive) DNA encoded memory
banks. But we'll be blowed if we can figure out exactly what
it all means. Final and complete understanding eludes, and this
is why Podstolski's art is all the more engaging.
Intricately woven works such as Pictographiti and Strip-Search
have endless hours of thought-provoking examination within them,
while carefully structured pieces like Someday their (K)night
will Come and Woof! are amusing, playful paintings
that showcase Podstolski's graphic talent.
Like chalk and cheese, yet at the same time symbolically attuned, Reilly and Podstolski have filled the gallery with highly colourful works of passion, pain and intrigue creating a visual feast that you simply must see.