Critics’ Picks

Matt Henry, Duochrome No.1, 2008, oil on linen and acrylic glazing, 24 x 39 x 3".

Auckland

Matt Henry

Starkwhite
510 Karangahape Road
April 16–May 16

Making elegant use of two adjacent mirror-image rooms, Matt Henry’s “Doppelgänger” presents a tidy cluster of new paintings and objects that riff on the visual similarity of contemporary high-tech product design and Judd-era sculptural Minimalism. In his first solo exhibition at the K Road staple, the native New Zealander blurs function into form, abstracting home-cinema gear to produce a set of mute postmodern totems with the hermetic gleam of John McCracken slabs. Placing three small MDF and Formica-veneer boxes on the floor of one room and a larger black block in the other, the young artist completes this knowingly spare installation with a pair of monochrome canvases, one nearly black and tinted with zinc white, the other a high-key electric green, glazed and framed in dark wood.

In his 2007 outing at the Fishbowl in New Plymouth, Henry exploited that gallery’s architectural peculiarity (originally a garage, it was converted into a sealed storefront via the addition of a street-facing glass wall) to amplify his project’s blend of bold geometry with wry domestic references. At Starkwhite, he exercises a similar strategy, responding to the interior’s polished serenity with a tongue-in-cheek homage to the culture of high-def surround sound. “Doppelgänger” sees the artist poke subtle fun at consumerist status anxiety by aligning high-street commodities with more rarefied goods. He also contributes a minor but engaging—and seamlessly realized—subset to the history of aesthetic cross-pollination between the formal and the functional, further teasing us with the fact that we can’t always tell one from the other.