Exhibitions

Jonny Niesche | Poikilos | 17 November – 22 December

Starkwhite is pleased to present Poikilos, a solo exhibition of new work by Jonny Niesche.

Poikilos is a spatial, immersive experience. Carefully constructed from the ground up, white vinyl blankets the gallery floor creating an ethereal tone within which sit three tall block-like sculptures, a mirrored diamond that spins in front window, and three new paintings. Offering Starkwhite visitors a vastly transformed experience of the space than they might known previously, each element in this intentional composition contributes to the creation of a spatial ambience that hedges us towards the emotional and slightly unknown. Crisply bright and filled with lushly seductive surfaces, Niesche’s exhibition seeks to destabilise perception, offering an architecture that sharpens our senses and creates an atmosphere for connecting with his work. This exhibition wants you to feel, but what exactly?

In this experience of complete immersion the white floor is joined by mirrored planes on the paintings and sculptures to reflect light from the gallery’s large windows and also capture the audience as unwitting performers in the work. The manner in which Niesche’s practice engages with the viewer — from polished surfaces to deep dark pools at the centre of his canvases and his undeniably beguiling use of colour — shows his careful employment of spatial dynamics and the primacy of our senses. Being with Niesche’s work can be a seductive sensory overload, a negotiation of intensity and intimacy as well as a ticket to an elegant futuristic realm. Materially fetishistic, his practice is celebrated for bold chromatic expanses and saturated tones that dissolve from one hue to the next in an unfolding play of light and colour. Each of the totem-like sculptures in the exhibition bears a colour sample lifted from one of the paintings then expanded into a gradient allowing sugary pink lavender to slip into minty green and gold cascade into lilac. While Niesche’s work is well known for its beauty and urban allure these compelling surfaces also hide a deeper game at work. Poikilos is a Greek word used to refer to dappled colouring and pigmentation, such as the skin of a leopard or the many-coloured iridescent scales of a snake. Such dazzling or eye-catching surfaces in the animal kingdom are as likely to be distractions as calls for attention, being more a signalling strategy than obvious display. But what is being signalled here? Beyond the beautiful surfaces of Niesche’s practice lies a complex association of sensation and spirituality.

In Jonny Niesche’s practice colours are presences, or performers. Each tone deliberately selected for its resonance and how it exists in conversation with the next, Niesche understands and exploits the power of colour to trigger our senses. Trawling fashion, music, makeup, and his own practice he digitally selects and distills hues to define the right experiential outcome, often one that offers a certain frequency to the gallery space. His practice is characterised by a plurality of colour field combinations, seriality, and a play of light and motion. Intriguingly his work vibrates and hums with an undercurrent of energy while also fostering a meditative space that guides us towards softening the harsh edges of the world. Establishing deep connection with its audience, his painting relays a surprising moment of stillness and contemplation, offering a portal to deeper states. While it is tempting to be drawn to the colour surrounding the painting’s dark centres, past the pigment and into the silky sheen of the softly textured voile is where the humming gets louder. Placed in stark contrast to colour-rich hues, Niesche’s dark centres fairly vibrate with energy. At once luminous and weighty, these works mark a familiar tension between spirituality and materiality, a visual aesthetic that suggests both containment and boundlessness.

Rich in interior-exterior negotiation, Nieche’s practice takes a variety of sources and contexts as its departure point. Drawing upon cultural movements — including modernism and abstraction’s use of colour and scale to create a sense of the sublime — and the cosmetics counter alike in Niesche’s work high art meets the shiny allure of pop culture. Fused with a succession of feather-edged, hazy geometric forms, his painting is disco-era glamour fused with New York minimalism. With their soft focus halos radiating towards mirrored frames, the after-dark aesthetic of disco’s suave urban optics abound. This is a delve beneath the shimmering surface, fabulous creatures, dancing and decadence to that space where sound is muffled and sensation reigns. It’s beautiful nobodies and celebrities rubbing shoulders on a back-lit dance floor to disco’s four-on-the-floor beat. Sexy but androgynous, Niesche’s all encompassing atmosphere is light, breathy, and shot through with colour.

There’s more than just the blurred soft light and seduction, however. In creating art works and immersive atmospheres that interact with their audience, Niesche’s practice echos disco’s figure-ground reversal. As a social movement disco was instrumental in challenging rock music which by the 1970s was becoming a sit-down affair, with stars up on the stage in the lights and the audience listening in the dark below. Disco clubs reversed this, pulling the audience into the art form and putting them centre stage and amongst the lights. Music changed to support this shifting emphasis also, its rhythm becoming more insistently driving and lyrics moving to second place. Disco may be celebrated for its shiny brightness and flashy aesthetic, but its inclusivity, impact, and cultural contribution run deep. Shared with Niesche’s practice is a celebration of the surface as site for performance, for aesthetic experimentation, and socio-cultural investigation as much as pleasure and beauty.

Exhibitions

Current

Upcoming

Past

Layla Rudneva-Mckay | I Roll

15 February 2022 - 19 March 2022

Fiona Pardington | Tarota

16 November – 18 December 2021

Fiona Pardington | Tarota Preview

5 October – 7 October 2021

Jan van der Ploeg | The Other Window

17 August – 12 October 2021

Laith McGregor | Second Wind

3 July 2021 – 7 August 2021

Richard Maloy | Maternal Routine

3 June - 19 June 2021

The Auckland Art Fair 2021

24.02 - 28.02

Will Cooke | Every Wall Is A Door

15 January 2021 - 13 February 2021

Whitney Bedford - Bohemia

Seung Yul Oh: Horizontal Loop

John Reynolds: RocksInTheSky...

For Pink Pussycat Club | as part of THE BILL

Fiona Pardington | Childish Things

Seung Yul Oh memmem

Rebecca Baumann Once More With Feeling

SIGNALS

The Armory Show 2010 | 1001 Nights
an installation by John Reynolds

Art LA Contemporary 2010

ShContemporary 2008 | Gavin Hipkins, Hye Rim Lee, Jae Hoon Lee and Grant Stevens

Jonny Niesche | Poikilos | 17 November - 22 December

GEMMA SMITH - Thin Air

SLIPPERY PAINTING

Performative Geographies

Sampler 2020

Gordon Walters: From the Archive

Richard Maloy

Rebecca Baumann: New Work

Jan van der Ploeg | The Other Window | 17 August to 12 October

the artists in conversation, The Estate of L. Budd et al.

Art of Wine

Billy Apple® and Tāme Iti: Flagged

Clinton Watkins

Yuk King Tan

Sampler 2019

TIKI: Orphans of Māoriland

AM/PM/AM

BILLY APPLE® is N=One

Ani O'Neill

Laith McGregor | Second Wind | July 3 - August 7

Alicia Frankovich

Martin Basher: Untitled

The Estate of L.Budd_et al.

Gavin Hipkins: Block Units

John Stezaker: Collages

Grant Stevens - The Mountain and the Waterfalls

Gordon Walters

Sampler

125

Len Lye: Love Springs Eternal

Richard Maloy | Things I have Seen

Michael Zavros | The Silver Fox

Martin Basher | Devil at the Gates of Heaven

Daniel von Sturmer, Luminous Figures

Martin Basher | Hawaiian Tropic

Nabokov's Blues: The Charmed Circle

John Reynolds 2017

BIll Henson | 1985 -2021 | 21 May - 19 June

On the Grounds

Billy Apple

Beyond Landscape

John Reynolds | WalkWithMe...

Laith McGregor | Swallow the Sun

Matt Henry | Analogues

Daniel Crooks | Vanishing Point

Material Candour 2016

Fiona Pardington | 100% Unicorn

Layla Rudneva-Mackay: Running Towards Water

Martin Basher Birds of Paradise | 13 April - 14 May

Clinton Watkins | lowercase

Whitney Bedford 2016 | Lost and Found

Alicia Frankovich | The Female has Undergone Several Manifestations

Fiona Pardington | The Popular Recreator

Gavin Hipkins | Block Paintings

Gordon Walters: Gouaches and a Painting from the 1950s

In Motion

Laith McGregor | Somewhere Anywhere

Starkwhite Queenstown | New Location

TOTEM | A Starkwhite exhibition curated by Mary Morrison

Group Show

Martin Basher | Jizzy Velvet

John Reynolds BLUTOPIA

Gavin Hipkins Erewhon

Grant Stevens Hold Together, Fall Apart

Michael Zavros Bad Dad

Not Another Art Fair | 24 February -3 April

THE ANALYSIS OF BILLY APPLE®

Layla Rudneva-Mackay

Lovers

Glen Hayward I don't want you to worry about me

Matt Henry High Fidelity

Richard Maloy All the things I did by Richard Maloy

Li Xiaofei

John Reynolds Vagabondage

Clinton Watkins Frequency Colour

BAZINGA! curated by Robert Leonard

Starkwhite Queenstown 29 January - 26 February

Whitney Bedford: This for That

Jin Jiangbo: Rules of Nature

Martin Basher

Billy Apple®: $9,020 AND $5,750 TOP UPS

Jim Speers Long Days

Ross Manning: Field Emmissions

Peter Peryer Edition

Jae Hoon Lee Antarctic Fever

Greetings from Los Angeles curated by Brian Butler

Seung Yul Oh HUGGONG