Derek Henderson at Michael Reid
Click here for a view of the photographs (then click on the arrow to the right for the slide show).
and for even more on Derek Henderson – click here
From the gallery website:
Derek Henderson’s recent body of photographic work takes the viewer into very charted territory. These are a type of landscape that appear unnervingly familiar, leaning on ‘romantic’ tropes of scale, grandeur, contrast and texture. Undeniably the artist is well versed in painterly compositions of the landscapes of mid to late 19th century paintings of the New Zealand “Southern”, where the image in many instances was virgin, unseen, hardly trampled, mysterious. Into these inaccessible sites artists the likes of William Hodges, Petrus Van Der Velden and Margaret Stoddart built series of paintings, which looked to articulate these raw, dramatic and primeval encounters. Of notable interest to these artists was the passing of light into and across these often dark landscapes, as mentioned by Francis Pound as describing a ‘sublime emotion’ but also the idea of light signifying spiritual illumination (1).
Geographically, the central and lower South Island is an area of the country where the shift in scale are most pronounced, long flat vista planes, river channels, bodies of water hurl and collide into brutal ranges, dark chiaroscuro, rock ridges and mountain. This is the place where the photographer placed himself, these are the components that the lens looms into, drawing imitation into the camera housing.
In the works themselves we are encountering makeshift temporary habitations, as if landed onto the environment, small stations that we read as a campsite, getaway or bolt hole, a decommissioned plant even. It’s as if we are witnessing a landscape transitioning from population to abandonment or conversely an almost imperceptible and temporary resettlement. The artist is relying on us believing what we are looking at and in doing so subtly exposes the fiction on show. Each work has a ‘chapter’ like title, and depending on the sequence that the images are viewed, varieties of narrative begin to occur that direct us to wonder, “what has taken place here”?
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