16 April - 15 May 2019 / MUSE Gallery, Havelock North / By Megan Seawright
Plato’s cave allegory has long been a philosophical enquiry to all who delve into notions of perception and conveyances of reality, an apt exploration for Niki Hill, who has produced a volume of photographs for her Masters, seven of which are on view at MUSE Gallery, Havelock North. These are highly considered, thorough art works, rendered with meticulous detail.
Exquisite singular forms bent and burrowed, challenge the viewer. There are hunched, curved figures posing enclosure, perhaps never having left it. It’s a long location of sustained containment, even across a lifetime. The chained people in Plato’s cave also held for a lifetime one perception of experience from which to build their world and understandings. Hill’s metaphoric images eclipse space, surrounded in black silence and as a singular, silvered and golden body draped tightly, full of iridescent light. Perception is re-posed: at times images are brushed removing solidness of form, reducing bone, until physically only a scream is present. One, an emerald chrysalis-like image, implies further metamorphous for the viewer, yet this is a side-line, just as Plato’s paradox suggests.
These undeniably beautiful works are loosely grouped in pairs; while it is not necessary to associate them as such, viewing them as pairs creates a sense of movement between an outer representation and an inner sense of burnished woods, fallen petals, forensic negative spaces and inverted forests, posed like scared cellular skin or internal veins and arteries, questioning what makes, or deprives, a body?
The figures are textured with silk, which acts like a membrane – the figure spilling, stretching, within varying terrains to be traversed while always remaining contained. Sometimes the body is defined, by an arm or head in expression. They are suggestive of a slip in time, the innocence of potential and a life lived behind cover, assembling the world through a shrouded lens.
I loved this exhibition and it’s a great move for MUSE Gallery – gritting in with such powerful and emotionally moving works. Niki Hill has complexly embedded profound enquiry though each sensitive, brooding, alive image, and I look forward to seeing her work exhibited widely in the years to come.
On until the 15th May.
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