Pauline Rhodes

Pleasure & Pain

Pleasure & Pain by Pauline Rhodes

Artwork Detail

Pauline Rhodes’ work has had special status in New Zealand art as a local exemplar of the global practice of Land Art which emerged in the late 1970s. Her materials have typically been sourced close to their site, or in direct response to the environment, and often consist of extreme contrasts. Located in the South Island at Banks Peninsula for much of her working life, Rhodes has utilised the conditions of this location with its sparse vegetation and weathered headlands. In the 1960s and 1970s she was a forerunner of a wider interest in transforming sculptural practice, in particular introducing a relationship with the environment and movement (or performative sculpture).

Living and working in the large open spaces of the South Island has influenced her strong use of simple volumetric tools that she calls ‘intensums and extensums’, which we can see in the repetition of open and closed forms.

Pleasure and Pain, 1980–2019 has emerged from an extended period of meditation on colour and form. It is also her most singularly important work from the studio following the Canterbury earthquakes, which she has been situated amongst and in turn responded to in this powerful installation. In it she introduces ‘weathered plywood’, a kind of distressed surface using a process that allows the porous wood to be ‘impregnated’ or printed with iron oxides and

2020_4 Pauline Rhodes Pleasure and Pain 4

rust. The wood is deliberately light and appears weightless, contrasting with the powerful use of colour and geometry and a subtly implied movement. The dried cuttings of matagouri, a native shrub with sharp thorns common to Banks Peninsula, is situated next to soft dense silks of equally intense colour. Rhodes has said of her use of red in this work: ‘red refers to new tests in neuroscience that aim to identify the intensity of chronic pain using colour bio-markers. As human beings we have longstanding emotive associations and responses to colour which are often ambiguous. It is then perhaps a radical recalibration to try and understand colour as a definitive means to communicate the intensity of a single sensation.'

Pleasure & Pain
Production date
painted and stained plywood, painted and stained canvas, silk, stained cotton, matagouri cuttings
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased with the assistance of Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland, 2020
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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