'The ‘character’ of a space is something I’m quick to exploit, and most galleries have it in abundance.' - Matt Henry
Matt Henry grew up in New Plymouth and knows the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery intimately. Now, following major renovations and the addition of the Len Lye Centre, Henry is rediscovering the spaces that were once so familiar to him.
Adding layer upon layer, Taranaki-born artist Matt Henry applies paint to Belgian linen that has been meticulously stretched onto cedar wood frames. The resulting surface is free of imperfections: slick, velvety and smooth as if machine-made. This process makes his work captivating, and aids Henry in blurring the lines between industrial design, architecture and art. Henry is a self-described perfectionist, with the deceptive simplicity of his work failing to represent the time and energy spent making it so.
In Long Division, we see Henry utilising the architecture of the gallery spaces and taking advantage of unique features and anomalies. According to the artist, “the ‘character’ of a space is something I’m quick to exploit, and most galleries have it in abundance. I have to admit I prefer more intimate galleries with volumes that approximate domestic or office spaces”. Voodoo Ray, hung low on the wall on the mezzanine level, is not out of place alongside the wayfinding signage next to the lifts. Yet on closer inspection, Henry’s painting betrays a commitment to form over function, revealing its role as that of art rather than utility.
The Govett-Brewster presents Matt Henry’s Long Division as a reflection of its commitment to artists who were born here, have familial ties here, or affiliations to the institution, and consider Taranaki their tūrangawaewae (their rightful place to stand).
Curators Sophie O’Brien and Chloe Cull
He whakapapa te mahi ā te kaitā nō Taranaki nei, a Matt Henry, arā he panipani i te kano ki te papamuka o Peretiama kua totorongia ki runga taitapa pāhautea. Paruhi kē tōna papa: kātahi tōna mōhanihani, tōna papamōnehu, tōna māeneene ētia nei kua hangaia e te mihīni. Ka hua mai ko hāna mahi whakatautau hei taunaki i te aronga whakawhenumi a Henry i ngā tikanga waihanga ahumahi, hoahoanga me te toi. Kei a Henry te kōrero mo tōna paruhi, tē taea e te huatau o hāna mahi te whakaahua i te nui o te wā me tāna whakapeto ngoi ki te hanga.
Ka mātaihia te koi o Henry, i rō Long Division, ki te whakamahi i te hoahoanga o te whare whakairi toi me hōna wāhi motuhake. E ai ki te kaitā, “wawe tonu taku rāwekeweke i te takiwā, kikī tonu ana ngā whare whakairi toi ki tēnei āhuatanga. He pai ake ki angeau ngā whare taupiri he hohonu ake ki hērā takiwā whakaratarata”. Kei te papa huarewa e tāiri iho ana i te pātū ko Voodoo Ray i tōna takiwā tika i te taha o ngā tohutohu whakatere, e pātata ana ki ngā ararewa. Kia āta tirohia anōtia, ehara tēnei taonga a Henry i te taputapu hei whakamahinga, erangi pūrangiaho mai ana ko tōna haepapa ā-toi nei, kaua ā-taputapu noa nei.
He whakaputa i tā Matt Henry whakaaturanga a Long Division te mahi a Govett-Brewster hei whakaata i tōna manawanui ki ngā kaitā i whānau mai i konei, e whai here ana ki konei, ki te whare taonga nei rānei, ā, e whaiwhakaaro ana ki tō rātou tūrangawaewae ki Taranaki nei.
Kaiwhakarite: Sophie O’Brien rāua ko Chloe Cull
Nā Te Ingo Ngaia i whakamāori i ngā kōrero / Text translated by Te Ingo Ngaia.