'Cherry on Top' an exhibition by Bernie Winkels

'Cherry on Top' an exhibition by Bernie Winkels

Bernard Winkels: Cherry on Top
by Karma Percy

Exhibition: Opening on Friday 16th April, 5pm, on display until Friday 7th May, 2021.

In this new suite of paintings Bernard Winkels substitutes the immediacy of text in his ceramic work (jokes, expletives, kiwaha*) for fleshy seduction by colour and organic forms in paint. There are changes. We are all living in a changed landscape; social, political and medical. Here a brighter, bolder palette greets viewers and some “delectable delights” await us.

Paint: glossy and dripping in peach, yellows and pinks. Like a 1980’s advertising colour chart. The ultra-luxe colours reflect the affluence and excess Winkels is commenting on. Consumerism and abundance is found in the ornate Victorian table settings that occupy the foreground of some paintings. Their fruity splendour acts as markers of wealth and indulgence.  While these works lack the artist’s characteristic text, the narrative is no less explicit. 

Visual clues point to another of Winkels longstanding themes of colonisation in Aotearoa. The European taming and framing of a landscape, land symbolised by Māori as Papatūānuku, the earth mother herself. This is not whenua viewed as scenery; valued for its aesthetic or monetary worth. There is deep meaning and attachment to place, natural features tell the stories of tīpuna, our ancestors. But “progress” meant turning wilderness into a so-called “civilised” land. This progress shapes the fractured post-colonial landscape in New Zealand today.

Serious themes aside, the ‘Cherry On Top’ in this show is the invitation to delight in colour and form. A background grid features in many paintings, using elements of ‘Sur automatism’ (Surrealist automatic drawings). Paint drips and wanders. This acts as a scaffold, supporting the vivid foreground shapes. And the fruit and cakes! Enjoy. Indulge. Consume.

*Kiwaha: (noun) colloquialism, slang, idiom