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First Time Caller

Mark Braunias
October, 2003
Green One
 Green One

Typically approachable is "Green One". There's an accessible and uplifting energy here - generated not only by the palette (a range of pinks and ochres on a never to be repeated green), but also by the simple device of inverting some of the figures within a busy, all-over composition. There's a nice contrast between surfaces outlined and then coloured flat, alongside smaller areas more vigorously brushed. The effect is of balanced exuberance, controlled, yet definitely upbeat.

"White One" is a different painting - classical and almost cool by comparison. Drawing with loaded brush directly on to raw canvas is a brave act; but even more challenging is the "slippage" that happens, or is allowed around some heads, but not others. Visually, figures are caught (variously) within their ground. A notion that is toyed with further, in the whiting out or blurring of figure and ground in the female top right. Here there is softness, which is countered by the stark relief of "Tintin", inverted mid to lower left. His area of comparative density is balanced by the black to its right, and the small dark collar or neck, above and left. Compositional decisions are discrete but telling. Suggesting I think, that these long time listeners are all seemingly struggling to hold their ground.

In the front gallery meantime, Braunias has worked up a storm. While the Jonathan Smart Gallery's inaugural artist-in-residence, Mark has given the notion of gallery as studio, as laboratory, or as place of exploration and experiment a thorough going-over. For ten days he "camped" in the space - completing shellac works, conceiving and executing large wall drawings, and placing sculptures and table works in considered but casual fashion throughout the gallery. The energy within this installation provides the dynamic hub of the show. From wallworks inspired by beatlemania and local artworld politics, to self-effacing self-portraits in das, Braunias works our gaze and takes our attention gently but relentlessly, up, down and around the space. What goes on this man's head, we wonderÉpure invention we might surmise. What goes on in ours, within our collective psyche, he simply notes down, thinks about, draws, then smiles.

Selected works

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1. Beatlemanacs
2. Green One
3. Untitled
4. Long Time Listener
5. Joe Frazier & The Knockouts
6. Its The Whanau
7. Installation 1
8. Installation 2

All works are mixed media on paper or baord (including acrylic, enamel, shellac and twink) and dated 2002/03.