Friday, October 30, 2009
  John Walsh at John Leech
NZ Herald September 19

The figure lounges on a couch, arms thrown back, chest thrust out, feet entwined in front of its crotch.

It's not overtly threatening, but it's not to be trusted either.

The painting is loosely based on a pare, a door lintel, an idea artist John Walsh been playing with for several years.

"Every time I take it on it seems to be looking less and less like a formal pare and taking on other forms."

Pare to My Place was done while Walsh was in Xiamen, China earlier this year as part of a sister city exchange with Wellington.

"We had to produce some work over there and we didn't have a lot of time. I knew the format of these pare, so I flew into that, and the idea was of having to go through this pare and this guy, who is not quite menacing, but he certainly gets your attention, to get to the landscape and the little house on the hill.

"I didn't want to spook (the viewer) but I wanted them to feel you had to puzzle your way through this guy to get beyond him."

Walsh operates in a territory which combines a painterly take on New Zealand light and landscape with Maori signifiers.

It's territory which has to be navigated with care. Slapping a tiki on the canvas won't save a bad painting, and loaded ideas can go off in unexpected and unwelcome ways, or fail to fire completely.

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