Michael Hight’s latest exhibition Two Rivers makes particular reference to the Whanganui and Rangitikei Rivers, sites of personal significance to the artist’s whakapapa and upbringing. The exhibition brings together two distinct compositional approaches, which share common meditations on the Anthropocene’s manipulation of the natural landscape.
In Ruahine, beehives are scattered amongst a field of rusting agricultural machinery. Fence posts cordon off the surrounding farm while powerlines disappear into the distance. With innate skill, Hight’s realism evokes a sense of place and familiarity beyond the rural scene depicted. The work gives off a warm glow, co-inhabited by homes of lively bees and the traces of human liveliness.
Sitting in contrast to what have become known as Hight’s ‘beehive paintings’, his ‘black paintings’ act as thought cabinets of curiosities. This body of work brings together fragments of landscapes and collected objects that employ the sort of free association often encountered in a dreamscape. With glimpses into an autobiographical narrative, these paintings challenge the viewer to create and question connections between time, object and place.