Explosions seem to be a bit of a theme at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery at the moment, with Exploded Worlds dominating the ground floor and Untitled (Exploded View) now showing upstairs. While the word seems to connote some degree of chaos, the latter of these two exhibitions is instead built on ideas of accuracy and control. Untitled (Exploded View) lifts colour field painting off the canvas and into our surroundings; vertical planes of rainbow tones sit around the gallery space, partially transparent, forming an interactive environment in which viewers are free to explore.
The end result is both peaceful and playful, two ideas not unfamiliar to the artist, Rebecca Baumann. Her practice has spanned sculpture, animation, performance, photography and kinetics, always returning to ideas of colour and human emotion. She has worked with burning smoke canisters, automated flip-clocks, streamers, tinsel and light, her work sometimes strays from, but always returns to, an underlying playfulness that demands to be taken seriously. Baumann recognises the intrinsic link between tone and mood, colour and human emotion, and manipulates this connection in her art.
Two years ago in Light Event Baumann coloured the sliding glass doors of the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, creating moving expanses of translucent colour - an idea continued now at the DPAG. Unlike in 2015, however, Baumann’s currently work is motionless, the kinetic element provided by the viewer. I respect the thoughtful confidence that connects these two works, and the artist’s portfolio as a whole. There’s something quietly intelligent about Baumann’s art that begs a second look, simultaneously sophisticated, intriguing, and fun.