wood glass stone – Dean Venrooy
It is a haunting yet very real landscape – the hills hugging the coastline, the blue-deep water of the harbour, the cloud shrouding the skyline. Within this close, intimate landscape Lyttelton artist Dean Venrooy inserts a cast of small, perfectly rendered birds (kingfishers, kereru, hawks, owls, shags and waxeyes) and objects (tables, rocks, books and altar-like cloths), all corralled between sea and sky into small tableaux painted on smooth stones, tide-worn fragments of glass and found fragments of timber like Victorian mementos or small, jewel-like talismen.
They seem portentous, these small crystalline paintings, as if imbued with a mystical magic realism. A shag’s head encased in its painted borders as if in a display cabinet, an outdoor table draped as if an altar, a tower of books perilously close to collapse, an almost ritualistic assemblage of rock, bird and bone against the old volcanic landscape of the harbour.
Venrooy, writes art critic Mark Amery, “revels in creating elegant rhythms, symmetries and visual melodies” and the works in this exhibition have a gentle, timeless sense of balance and antiquity, using scale, detail and a muted palette to suggest a natural world bordering on the supernatural, the mythic and the allegorical.