Bringing together some of sculptor Elizabeth Thomson’s largest, most audacious creations of the past twenty years, this survey exhibition highlights the perplexing, beautiful, sometimes disturbing, often dazzling work of one of New Zealand’s most singular contemporary artists.
Working at the interface between art and various strands of science, Thomson has, since the late 1980s, explored both the formal qualities and artistic potentials she finds in plants, insects and molecular structures. Through the 1990s, Thomson’s art became increasingly sculptural and focused on harmonious repetitions of natural forms. Her large, intricately patterned wall-pieces effect a shift in the relationship between human observer, work of art and the world beyond: in Ant’s Head the viewer is confronted with a tiny detail of nature as seen through a giant microscope; in Flight Test a vast, unfurling landscape is sized to span one of Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts’ largest gallery walls.
By radically adjusting scale and perspective, Thomson invites the viewer into a fictional world where optics, mathematics and natural science are reconfigured by the imagination. Her optically challenging orchestrations exist on the boundary between two- and three-dimensionality, both wall- and air-space, making us aware of the limits of both eye and the rational mind