Los Angeles-based, New Zealand artist Fiona Connor’s exhibition, Object Classrooms, tracks the movement and eventual disappearance of an artwork as it was moved around New Zealand in the mid-1970s. Tracking its mysterious path – through galleries, art institutions and conservation departments – Connor allows the absent painting and its related documentation to create a series of counterpoints between objects, words and architectures.
Object Classrooms is accompanied by Abstractions: Works from the Govett-Brewster Collection in Galleries 2, 3 and 4 (Sat 10 Mar– Sun 29 Apr), which focuses on the history and influence of geometric abstraction (particularly from the West Coast of the United States) on artists in New Zealand.
The painting in question was created by Los Angeles artist John McLaughlin, a pioneer of minimalism and hard-edge painting, and a leading United States West Coast post-war artist. It was included in the 1972 exhibition State of California Painting, which toured New Zealand, organised by the American director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Robert Ballard. The exhibition had a substantial impact on New Zealand artists at the time, many of whom found inspiration in McLaughlin’s approach to contemporary painting.
Connor’s new film, Object Classrooms #1 (Finding John McLaughlin), commissioned by the Govett-Brewster, follows in the footsteps of the exhibition’s tour and includes footage of the New Zealand art institutions that hosted State of California Painting. The film is presented alongside other new works and historical material drawn from the Govett-Brewster’s archives. It forms an investigation into the life of the painting and considers the impact that an artwork and a place can have on one another.
Curated by Sophie O’Brien with Assistant Curator Tendai John Mutambu
Sebastian Clough, exhibition design; Hannah Kirby, editing; Maggie Lomeli, screen printing; Fredrik Nilsen, photography; Carmela Snooks, sound; Ryan Spearman, camera
E.H. McCormick Research Library, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki; Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland; John McLaughlin Papers Louis Stern Fine Art, Los Angeles; Massey University, Wellington; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Archives, Wellington; New Plymouth District Council; Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, Hamilton
Jim and Mary Barr; John and Jo Gow; Jenny and Andrew Smith; Stephanie and Sjoerd Post; John Leuthart; Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland/Wellington
Access Radio Taranaki; Imagezone Camera Rentals; Transformer Film; Interrogate
Fiona Connor is represented in New Zealand by Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland/Wellington