Tracing Colour by Noel Ivanoff ar Vavasour-Godkin Gallery, Auckland, to 24 June.

Reviewer Peter Simpson.

NOEL IVANOFF was a new name to me until a well-produced colour catalogue arrived in the mail in advance of this exhibition.The effort and enterprise involved in making this happen - unusual for a dealer gallery show in this countr - is considerable and made me expect something worth seeing.

Born in 1963 in Lower Hutt, Ivanoff studied at Otago Polytechnic before moving to London where he trained at the St Martins School of Art in the mid-1980's. After several years abroad - including a sojourn in Japan - he returned to complete a masters degree at the University of Auckland in 1999. He had several shows in London (and Tokyo) and has been in group shows since his return. Thisis his first solo show in New Zealand.

The mode of Ivanoff's painting is most simply described as contemporary abstract minimilism - if you could call that simple. There is no hint of illusionism, nor any figuration beyond all over surface patterning of colour. The exhibition title Tracing Colour, suggests one of the primary concerns of these paintings. They are studies in colour but in a very minimal sense of the term.

We are not talking here about Clairmont's or Albrecht's symphonies of colour but rather about subtle excercises in shades of diference involving pale and dark green, blue or violet, one colour per work.
The painting are still displayed in pairs and this doubling is an essential rather than superficial element in their character.

In each case the left-hand square is a wooden panel coloured evenly all over with a single colour - either light or dark - the horizontal brush lines faintly but distinctly observable. This is caused by ading beeswax to oil paint, allowing the drag of the brush mark to be retained, a residual sign of the artists hand. The right-hand image is in each case the same size and colour as the left but otherwise qite different. The painted image is attatched to stiff tracing paper which has been stretched across a wooden support and pinned on either side of it to the wall.

The wooden stretcher is faintly visable through the semi-transparent paper (a Japanese-like detail) and the thinnish texture of paint that is attatched to it.The paint is more unevenly distributed on the paper squares because the image is produced not by brush but by laying the paper over the freshly painted surface of the corresponding wooden panel and brushing it with regular vertical strokes like newly laid wallpaper, so that much (but not all) of the wet pigment attaches to the under-surface.

Technically the "work on paper" is a kind of monoprint, and is paired with its partner in a subtle, elegant and pleasing marriage of medium, colour and texture.
In this post-modern era, many previously popular art styles are newly available for renovation and use - just like old buildings. Ivanoff uses the colour minimalism that has been around internationally since the 1960's with contemporary sopistication and skill.