October 7 - 31, 2015
What a riff on portraiture! Within art history, Giotto was the traditional champion of the backview, but with these bodies of work, Heather Straka lays claim to the back of the head, back of the neck and the upper back as her currency in contemporary New Zealand painting.
The palette is typically Straka – rosebud or fleshpink through grey to her curiously sallow green – as are the controlled thin layers of oil paint. Here, all is care with no responsibility. And everything is utterly beautiful.
In Somebodies Eyes, the backview is clad in a military green jacket. This is painted to look ill-fitting, requiring a fantastic array of pins, needles, clips and even gaffer tape to hold it in place. Combined with the close cropped hair and heads, the overall effect is sometimes sinister. However the eye is led a gentle dance, as the gathered fabric adds to the elegant rhythm of curves set up between the painting’s oval edges and each model’s head, neck and shoulders. But in this series, heavy black frames contribute a sense of weight and history – further gravitas to the mystery of these models held (hostage) within Heather Straka’s powerful feminine gaze.
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Details of works
Honeytrap 1 - 14
Somebodies Eyes 3, 5, 14, 18, 19, 20
All works are from 2015