A two-fold question frames Hugo Koha Lindsay’s most recent body of work: what is a landscape? And what can it be within the language of abstraction? Lindsay poses this question in the context of the environment of late capitalism; a landscape of sorts that is both the physical land and buildings, and the socio-economic atmosphere. He submits his paintings as “alternative cartographies”, maps that don’t simply describe geographical landmass, but which ask: what is the physical and psychological experience of being in this space? Lindsay’s paintings featured in of common walls are the direct residue of such musings.
Lindsay’s paintings echo the temporary architecture of city development, charting our constant physical and cognitive renegotiation of space as we navigate through the urban construction site. Concrete grey and safety yellow and orange feature more prominently than in Lindsay’s previous work, heightening our awareness of the permanence of these supposedly interim structures that cause us to continually re-route, following spray painted arrows through road cones and scaffolding. Given that many redevelopments are the symptom of wider gentrification, Lindsay draws on postmodernist philosopher Frederick Jameson’s concept of ‘cognitive mapping’, and peer Albert Toscano’s Cartographies of the Absolute, to consider how these structures act as boundaries, both physical and social.
The construction site is not limited to civic developments, but also dominates the domestic environment. New Zealand’s DIY mentality encourages continual renovation, and sees the property market dominated by ‘do-up’ listings – houses seen as potential for structural and capital growth. Fittingly, Lindsay deliberately selects materials readily available from the local hardware store, transporting the site of construction to the painting studio. Lindsay’s paintings are actually the artist’s adapted monoprint technique, where he first paints compositions directly onto the studio floor before laying his canvas onto wet paint, drawing through the back to register. Elements of the studio floor leave their mark on the paintings’ surfaces, and from time to time we can identify a boot print from Lindsay.
Consequently, Lindsay’s paintings are imprints of the environment in which he works, the direct residue of his thought processes, and a record of his embodiment of the studio space. In the gallery, these imprints act as a portal to the studio, and to the continuous construction site of the outside world.