Stephen Bambury (b.1951, NZ), Gunther Forg (b. 5 Dec 1952 – 5 Dec 2013, Germany), Katharina Grosse (b.1961, Germany), Judy Millar (b.1957, NZ)
Colour – System – Support is a curated group exhibition that brings together four artists who address modernist thought – each pushing and re-figuring painting into new contexts. All of the featured works are painted on the support of metal, as opposed to paper or canvas, which affects the density and weight of colour on their surface. The exhibition is made up of works by two German painters, Gunther Forg and Katharina Grosse and two New Zealanders, Stephen Bambury and Judy Millar, thus adding an international context to the conversation around systems of painting.
In Gunther Förg’s work brushstroke takes on abstract form. Förg makes reference to artists such as Georg Baselitz, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, re-determining their methodologies, or ‘solutions’ to painting and creating art. German art critic Andreas Schlaegel writes, “Retrospectively, the reason for the continued importance of Förg’s oeuvre becomes clear: The evolution of his direct, subjective engagement with the aesthetic of the sublime – conducted without fear of stereotypical taboos – oscillates between appropriation and homage, yet Förg does so without any ironic quotations or other such cheap distancing techniques. Instead, he throws mythical ballast overboard and appropriates picture-making strategies in a way that makes them look new”. In 9 Farben (From a Series of 40 Unique Colour Paintings) Förg’s compositions are built through the juxtaposition of two contrasting colours, his brushstrokes visible over the flat aluminium support. The clarity and apparent simplicity of his works motion towards the aesthetic of the sublime.
In Stephen Bambury’s work we see the influence of artists such as Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. A hint of uncertainty, however, underlies his geometric combinations. Forms are subtly skewed, or sensuous materials allude to chemical reactions – setting adrift utopian ideals of his predecessors. In Second State, 2008-14, a strong pink contrasts with a surface that has the ambiguities of Cor-ten steel. The metal tone gives the painting its texture, allowing chance to play a part in its construction.
Katharina Grosse has become known for works that move off traditional painting supports onto surfaces beyond: walls, clay, manufactured objects and more. Her layering of colour is skillful yet open to chance, allowing for random variables in its depth, harmonies and clashes. This is visible in her spray-painted work, Untitled, 2001, through her choice of fluorescent colours with varying degrees of transparency. In her two other untitled works layers of brushstrokes allow colour to interact on different planes.
Judy Millar is engaged in a language of mark making that draws upon histories of painting, which she at once embraces and subverts. In the way that Abstract Expressionists were concerned with marks of ‘inherent honesty’, which suggested a connection between mind and body, Millar intends her works to be read as referential and graphic. Because of her degree of self-consciousness and her positioning in critical discourse, Millar’s paintings are often quoted when discussing the emergence of postmodernism in New Zealand Art.
Colour – System – Support places four artists with different methodolgies side-by-side, united by their choice of metal support and their ongoing exploration of the possibilities of painting.
 Schlaegel, Andreas (translated by Nicholas Grindell). “Günther Förg.”, Rev. of Günther Förg’s exhibition at Galerie Max Hetzler, 2011. Frieze, Spring 2012, issue 4. Web.
 Neri, Louise. “Katharina Grosse in Antipodes: Inside the White Cube”, London: White Cube, 2003. Ed. Louise Neri.p.1.)
Byrt, Anthony. Judy Millar: How to Paint Backwards. “How to Paint Backwards”, P. Gow Langsford and John Leech Galleries, 2003, p.3