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Consumer appliances inspire Auckland artist

16 Sep 2011

This content is tagged as Visual arts .

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Inspired by everyday utilitarian objects, Matt Henry's new exhibition User Friendly will open at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts on 24 September. Matt Henry is based in Auckland and User Friendly is his first solo exhibition in a public gallery.

In User Friendly, abstract paintings  mimic household appliances and consumer goods, presenting the painting itself as a desired commodity, ready to be consumed.

Ovens, cabinetry, flat screen TV's  and other high end designer appliances are filtered through Matt Henry's minimalist vision  in a new exhibition which challenges the viewers assumptions about consumerism.

"In a way, Henry is reclaiming modernism" says Bruce Philips, Te Tuhi's curator. "Popular design for high end goods such as hi-fi stereos and flat screen TV's have taken their inspiration from abstraction and Henry is bringing that appropriation back to physical paintings."

The canvas and its surface is central to Henry's work. Explains Phillips, "He goes to meticulous lengths to make pristine surfaces that barely resemble paintings, although much time has been put into the painting of them. The painting materials are so transformed that they resemble powder coated steel or laminated Formica, just like you would see in your kitchen appliance."

The placement of the paintings are of particular significance to Henry's exhibitions. The works are often situated  close to the ground around the same height you would find appliances or cabinetry in your home.  Utilizing three of Te Tuhi's gallery spaces, Henry prepared a scale model of the gallery to ensure the works would be placed and viewed from a variety of vantages. 

Henry is even happy if you don't appear at first to notice any of his works as you enter the gallery. Says Henry "some paintings are hardly visible as you enter;  they are subtle and camouflaged, but they will reveal themselves to the viewer as they take the time to look through."

User Friendly opens on 24 September and runs until 6 November. Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts is situated at 13 Reeves Rd in Pakuranga Auckland.