Threads of Touch: Review

An exhibition of large-scale paintings on road signs

For the Harcourt's Hawkes Bay Arts Festival By Delicia Sampero

Reviewed by K Mackenzie


Now that the festival has finished, some Threads of Touch paintings can still be found at Boyd- Dunlop Gallery (Napier) Tennyson Gallery (Napier) and Muse Gallery (Havelock North) and at the Wildflower exhibition (Hastings/ Bridge Pa), as well as in the exhibition catalogue available from the Community Arts Centre in Hastings and online.

New Zealanders are no strangers to disaster, and the experience of catastrophe has widened its circle in 2020. Following earthquakes, a mass shooting, and now a lockdown, we are reeling. But resilience has always been part of the kiwi identity and this is apparent in the contemplative works of German- born NZ artist Delicia Sampero.

Sampero has taken the multiple attacks on our personal identities, health and wellbeing, and isolation caused by an increasingly disconnecting connectivity and the literal separation of lockdown and created large scale art, using road signs as her canvases.

Threads of Touch weaves the sinuous patterns of the human form, reminiscent of the Vitruvian man but given movement and emotion, with the rigid patterns of a motherboard. In this way, she visually stimulates us to ask ourselves what connection is, and how it is changing.

Her human forms float loose and ethereal over the solid and unchanging computeresque backgrounds. The luminescence of road sign texts distorts perspective, shifting and changing in the light. Both a distraction and a reflection, this gives the piece a life beyond the surface content.

The decision to spread the exhibition over several galleries and locations was brave. It does require a greater commitment from the viewer. The success of this idea is mixed but one work (titled Here Now)in Toitoi, sits comfortably in the large-scale foyer and is read, and enjoyed, more for standing alone. And one cannot ignore the repetition of Sampero’s theme, that the threads in this exhibition are so spread and we must gather them in ourselves. 

A globe floats amid a circle of circles, the organic curves bisected by binary imagery. Sampero's questions extend to our world.

Urgency of the signs, the basis of the works, the disconnecting isolationism of the virtual world, and the classical nature of the human forms could create a disconnect of their own. Yet Sampero keeps us grounded even as her generic people signify but do not allow us to see who they are. They are us all. Pull the threads together, it is worth the effort.


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