Oliver Perkins


28 May 2022 - 20 November 2022

FREE-RANGE is one part of an expanded project by Ōtautahi-based artist Oliver Perkins, which extended from this painting on the Big Wall to the exhibition A kind of arrow, which was located in the Trustbank galleries situated opposite (closed 16 October 2022).  

Located within the structure of a civic building, FREE-RANGE embeds itself within the parameters of the existing wall and starts an architectural dialogue that continues into A kind of arrow. With its soaring vertical lines and large fields of colour, FREE-RANGE acts as both a counterpoint and a bearing, providing a reference point by which Perkins’ wider body of painting can be navigated. 

Perkins’ work is concerned with the physical, material, and literary potential of the painted object, the relationship of painting to its external conditions, and the encounter between object and viewer. In the studio, these concerns are driven by a process of thinking through ideas using the materials of a painting, the output of which can be seen in A kind of arrow.

With FREE-RANGE, Perkins utilises the natural scale of the site and architecture and responds to the physical and phenomenal conditions that frame this wall. The red interior of the painting is divided by aluminium poles, which echo the multitude of vertical constructions; balustrades, supports, window frames and returns. It doing so, the work extends the pre-existing architectural logic of the gallery space. At the same time, through its site and embedded nature, FREE-RANGE draws attention to how the gallery architecture interacts with the world beyond – to passing sunlight, shadow, and the shift of night to day, and day to night. With the work casting its own shadows, these durational divisions serve to both physically locate the viewer within the building, but also within a time of day – operating as a speculative kind of sun-dial. 

Both sites of the exhibition are visible to each other via the triangular window in the gallery wall, creating a kind of telescopic experience. In doing so, FREE-RANGE both destabilises and expands the network of relationships that frame how a painting operates - physically, materially, conceptually, and socially.

Oliver Perkins (b.1979) studied at Christchurch School of Art & Design (CPIT) before completing a Master of Arts from Chelsea College of Arts, London. Returning to Aotearoa, he has established a significant exhibition-based practice, and in 2017 was awarded the the Parehuia Artists’ Residency at McCahon House, Auckland. 

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