Review by T.J. McNamara 2015 NZ Herald

T.J. McNamara: Great Expectations

By T.J. McNamara

Great Expectations by Brendan McGorry at Sanderson Contemporary Art takes its title from Dickens’ famous novel. Like the book, the paintings are about growing up and the passage of time. These are paintings of a family but the implications are universal.

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Brendan McGorry’s How Soon is Now.

The most touching is How Soon is Now with a grandson and grandfather on either side of an old iron fireplace with a glowing fire. The fireplace refers to continuing tradition and the fire to warm homeliness. A further reference to tradition comes in the reproduction of a familiar painting by Constable over the mantelpiece. The little boy is standing on a chair to sing, while the grandfather plays the guitar.

The manner of the work is lively, a patchwork of colour with each form surrounded by a wiry line. The warm colours are mostly unmixed red, yellow and blue.

The whole ensemble is not entirely portrait painting. The situation makes a statement about families, tradition and the passing of time. This feeling is continued in Great Expectations I and II in which background waves of rhythmic colour suggest growth and movement. In other works celtic symbolic patterns are set in the sky against the moon. A stone wall in Cornwall Park stands for place and permanence.

One predominantly blue painting has a couple against the background of a ghostly version of Symonds St Cemetery. This work is characterised by the lively treatment of pattern in the couple’s clothing as well as their youthful dignity and apparent innocence. Another kind of innocence is emphasised in the pale bare feet of a brother and sister unified by the way they sit and pose. The work combines an effective and individual style with a touchingly humanistic approach.

At the galleries

What: Great Expectations: paintings by Brendan McGorry
Where and when: Sanderson Contemporary Art, Osborne Lane, 2 Kent St, Newmarket, to October 11
TJ says: Colourful images of family relationships conveyed mostly by thoughtful young figures against waves of colour that suggest the passing of time.

5a

– Weekend Life

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