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Sideways in Reverse

Dates: 21 Apr, 2015 - 9 May, 2015 Having participated in various group exhibitions at Warwick Henderson Gallery over the last few years, Sideways in Reverse is th ...

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Dates: 21 Apr, 2015 – 9 May, 2015

Having participated in various group exhibitions at Warwick Henderson Gallery over the last few years, Sideways in Reverse is the first solo presentation of Chris Pole’s work. Utilising his extensive travel experiences throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East as a rich source of imagery, Sideways in Reverse is also defined by a focus on scenes closer to home.  Dense wilderness and expansive countryside – captured by the artist during solo tramping excursions into isolated South Island locations – are offset by equally unpopulated cityscapes here in Auckland.  The core of the exhibition lies in a suite of twenty small works, juxtaposing the rural and the urban, but imbuing a sense of emptiness into both, rendered in a flat, almost emotionless manner.  The editing process that takes place, most notably the removal of any signs of ‘inhabitants’, is a key aspect to Pole’s practice, with the omissions as important as the things that are actually painted, allowing the artist to reduce the images to core elements of pattern and composition, depicting the places almost as they are, but not quite. Pole includes text in his paintings which also pose as titles for the paintings.

Pole states “They often have quite clear meaning to me… but I like the idea that they can’t really be pinned down.  What a certain word or phrase might mean to me in relation to a particular image will be quite different to how somebody else will read it.  They are such a strong graphic element, and there’s almost a connotation with advertising billboards or something, which is quite interesting, as I’m not exactly sure what the works would be trying to sell…”

Sideways In Reverse will present a number of these elements combined, from nods to travel evident in an intersecting road and railway track (fade), through tiled strata-effects (navigation), and a wide-ranging encapsulation of architecture – ancient ruins (false start), idyllic  European street-scenes (less aim less), and modern-day central Auckland (cornered, disconnect) – with Pole’s overlaid texts (generically Arial, and exclusively lower case, as if to purposefully sidestep emphasis on any particular word).

Pole is able to relate detailed histories for each work, describing the genesis for each piece in terms of how he arrived at each location, how he chose to compose the original photograph, and the variety of decisions made during the slow process of turning it into a painting.  It is not lost on him that there is a certain dichotomy in taking a single moment in time and then spending many months re-imagining it, offering up a finished work that can be viewed as ‘absolute’ when it is essentially fictional.

Pole states “There’s an emptiness underpinning them; they’re devoid of humanity, and that can have a slightly unsettling quality, but it’s also the thing that keeps them interesting beyond that initial impression.  For all their allusions to reality, it’s more a lingering sense of illusion, a kind of un-realness that permeates them and warrants that closer inspection.”

Chris Pole paintings exhibit a true command of composition, architectural appreciation and great attention to detail. These works really do have to be seen to be appreciated.

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