“Untitled, Dunedin Landscape, May 2020” review in the ODT 26/11/20 by Robyn Maree Pickens

JAY Hutchinson’s current exhibition at Olga is the most conceptually rigorous by the artist that I have personally seen to date. It also represents a departure of sorts from the gallery’s regular programming, and pushes against the expectations of dealer gallery exhibitions more generally — in this corner of the world at least. These prefatory remarks are, of course, consistent with conceptual art projects in the sense that they often require more contextual foregrounding to assist viewers not familiar with the artist’s work. This contextualisation itself can be problematic from the perspective of the viewer who may want to approach the exhibition without an “explanation” (there will be those who have this experience), and from the position of the reviewer, who can be similarly wary of providing information in a way that may undercut the apparent inscrutability of the exhibition. The issue here is: how much to give away?

Notice, if you will, the trails of red brick dust that have plumed down from the masonry screws on the white wall and have caught on remnants of filler from previous exhibitions. Look at the arrangement of screws and nails themselves. Refer to the title: is this what the city looked like in May? Are the upright ladder and the rubbish on the floor part of the exhibition? Has the artist worked with rubbish in the past? Is that a rubbish bag in the corner?

Published by agallerypresents.com

Conceived as a two-year project, ‘a gallery’ opened in February 2011 at 393 Princes Street, Dunedin and closed in September 2012. Strategically placed south of the center of town nestled between tattoo studios, sex shops and a needle exchange. What was integral in the selection of the gallery space was that it would be able to be viewed from the street through the street level floor to ceiling windows. This would allow the artists showing to be exposed not only to viewers visiting the gallery, but also those walking past, as a gallery was to represent artists that did not fit within the commercial gallery context or the so called experimental project space’s, this would be the best way to expose a particular group of artists selected by gallery curator/manager Jay Hutchinson, artists he respected and admired and felt were not being represented in the gallery scene at the time.

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