Following Helen Calder’s participation in 2015 in SOLID COLOUR: Part 1, Trish Clark Gallery is delighted to present Gamut, a solo show of new works by Calder.
Exhibiting since 2003 in New Zealand and internationally, Christchurch-based Calder has pursued an intense engagement with painting – its history, language, and position in the wider arts – for almost 40 years, most of those in art education. In a little more than a decade her work has evolved rapidly, her prior decades of experience facilitating highly ambitious work, sensuous and challenging, underpinned by strong theoretical foundations. Paint is poured, left to dry; then these ‘skins’ are attached to steel pins, flopped over wires or racks, or gathered and hung using thick rubber chords. Paint, shed from the picture plane, takes on sculptural form, as colour, tonality, and the placement of forms become Calder’s key concerns.
With Gamut, Calder’s long interest in colour theory comes to the fore, referencing Goethe’s early theory (1789) relating to the temperaments. Goethe arranged the four humours (sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic) into opposing pairs, as complementary colours are opposed in a colour wheel. Character types were assigned to the humours, which Calder has in turn bequeathed to the exhibition’s central installation work: Tyrant, hero, adventurer, hedonist, lover, poet, speaker, historian, teacher, philosopher, collector, ruler. Hung in a spiral sequence, the languid luscious forms, each distinctly individual, converse and relate across the gallery space as they unfurl from the ceiling.
Three further works show primary colours poured, dried, folded, stacked – the sculptural weight of Calder’s voluptuous skins casually teetering atop fine steel supports.
Calder has developed and maintained links with artists and groups involved in more recent abstraction, particularly those working within an expanded idea of painting. This has led to inclusion in several curated exhibitions – My Eyes Keep Me in Trouble curated by Tilman (CCNOA, Belgium) at The Physics Room, Christchurch, (2008); As if We Never Met, Helen Calder, Julian Dashper & Lee Szu Hui, curated by Andre Hemer, Paintlust Project Space, Christchurch (2009); and Matter matters, Helen Calder, Ilona Hakvort and Sophie Knezic, curated by Richard van der Aa at Paris Concrét, France (2011). An active member of the Christchurch art community, in 2005 Calder set up and co-directed the dealer gallery 64zero3 with Julia Morison. For the past several years she has been a Trustee of Christchurch’s CoCA, helping guide change within the organisation for its re-opening, post-earthquakes, in 2016.
Calder’s work is in the Collections of Chartwell Trust at Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki, New Zealand; Fletcher Trust, Auckland, New Zealand; Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand. In 2013 she was awarded the Artist in Residence at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne. In 2003, the year she graduated MFA (Distinction) from Canterbury University, she was also awarded the University’s Ethel Rose Overton Scholarship. She gained her BFA (First Class Honours) in 2002.