Still Life with Landscape – Adrian Jackman

21 September – 11 October, Muse Gallery, Havelock North

There is a ginormous jar of jelly jets on the gallery counter. And the lolly palette is reflected in the small, tight collection of works on show from Adrian Jackman. They are a drone-eye view at first glance, of the plains and ravines and patchwork fenced-in farmland of the artist’s new bucolic home. As the eye ranges it teases out more: Here is a dog, there is a child, there a ball, here a sunbather. Jackman is Elam-trained and was Auckland-based until 18 months ago when he packed up his practice and moved to the Wairarapa.

Echoing the artist’s small-town relocation, what you first see when you call in to this show, Still Life With Landscape, is what you first see when you pull in to any small town – the bright light, the freshness, the open spaces. It is only after looking closer, discovering more, that you begin to make out the figures of those who inhabit that space.

The white walls that border this show are vast and the works run the risk of being driven out but these pieces are so bright, so bold and so disciplined they hold their ground and demand attention. Jackman is a master of his trade, and his learned approach to his practice is palpable: cubism, orphism, pop art, street art, graphic design – somewhere in there is a laconic response to Hockney’s iconic Bigger Splash – it feels like he’s played with all of these before syphoning off what he finds to be truly useful, truly his personal view.

The first work is tiny and tight and focused and forces the viewer to get in close. The larger works push the viewer out and away. The last piece pulls eyes in, and so a visitor weaves through the gallery like a child high on sugar. It is optical play. That last work intrigues particularly: Chromatic Landscape No.1. It is so pared back, it is landscape diminished to mere squares, as if that drone has zoomed in so far, things and people and places have become only atoms, pixels, points.


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