Cultural propaganda

If you are in the mood for a dark and not so gloomy experience, don’t go to St Francis in Lonsdale St. Nostalgic photographs of old factories are on display.

And the Japanese Consulate, which is showing fine sculptural pieces by Leigh Sloggett, is difficult to find.

Right in the centre of town, close to Swanston St in the Capitol Arcade, is a gallery that is always reliable. The paintings on display at Fort Delta are often dark, irreverent and uplifting for their ironic presence.

Director James Bowen is into paint. His stockroom is legendary, leaning towards being a repository of sweet works with a Gothic edge.

Mr Bowen labels the work of Nick Ives, currently showing with two other artists, as contemporary portraiture. He denies being ironic, despite the fact that the artist draws heavily on Goya and that one of his subjects is a block of cheese.

Parody features heavily in the 13 character studies on display. Some are carnivalesque, more pig than human, or wearing funny fur coats. The best, such as The beginning is the end and Half moon, appear to grow and bubble out of faces and their disguises.

Ives explores the intersection between the sinister and the playful, delving back into the pantheon of historic power brokers and ignoble figures from fantasy environments.

The exhibition is “asking the viewer to consider the more menacing ideas attributed to our civilization such as cultural propaganda while inviting them to revel in the fancifulness of the imagination”.

References aside, the brushwork is fluid and the imagery blunt. Ives is a Melbourne-based painter whose works are popular amongst New Zealand buyers.

Nick Ives’ An arbitrary device in the belly of a whale is showing at Fort Delta until April 29.

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