Essays & Media

Te Hīkoi Toi: Stop making sense with abstract relief

Mark Amery, 2022

James R Ford, Epiphany Apophany (installation view), 2022

Meanwhile, at Suite gallery, James R Ford takes a more wry, teasing conceptual approach to our need to search for meaning in abstraction, and our anxiety around locating its value. A series of paintings present constellations of dots on gorgeous galactic sprays of colour, as if they might be joined to make signs. The puzzle is left open – the meaning is left for you to decide – and there is a thoughtful elegance in their construction.

James R Ford, Epiphany Apophany (installation view), 2022

Ford follows a legacy of artists who have reacted to the senselessness of trying to make sense in a world of destructive human behaviour – the surrealists, the dadaists, and Fluxus, for example. The work is all smart surface, presented as a game, and can be taken as a critique of the very market it is being sold in. A set of black-on-white text paintings here talk boldly back to the viewer, questioning their motivations as buyers with the slogans “Fear of Losing” and “Angst of Acquiring”. More pressingly, in this zoom era is Ford’s work “You’re on mute”. A simple but loaded statement to unpack when considering anxiety around exercising our voice in fractured times. Times when, ironically, the tools for communication have never been more diverse.

Originally published: Mark Amery, The Dominion Post, NZ, 19th February 2022