A single source of light
American spaceman Buck Rogers first appeared in a 1929 comic as an Air Force pilot who wakes up from a 500-year sleep to find his homeland is overrun by Mongols. Some time during the 20th century, space traveller's moniker was given to Gisborne art teacher Richard Rogers who was henceforth known to his mates as Buck. And now, the retired art teacher's creations of odd pods, mites and missile-like bivalves from another world are part of his exhibition, The Sculptured Wall.
Inspired by the collaborative experience of putting together Fruits of Isolation, a 2019 retrospective of works by former Flying Moas John Walsh, Kent Baddeley, the late Daryl File, and himself, Rogers considered what he could do next.
“I thought I'd get all my sculptures and constructions and bring them together for a show.”
The Sculptured Wall will function, in a sense, as an installation with tributes either side of the gallery entrance to Daryl File and the late Graeme Mudge.
“They have been inspirational,” he said.
“They always had sculptural things taking over and they were multimedia artists.”
Made of three spaces in Tairawhiti Museum's main gallery, Rogers' exhibition will include, in one corner, a recreation of his studio, complete with ratty carpet and a shelf with his sketchbooks. A TV will show footage put together by photographer and imaging specialist Norm Heke.
One space will contain his heads and malformed skulls, creations that explore aspects of identity. A large face composed of angular facets is the concept of Cubism made three-dimensional.
“Cubism has influenced me all the way through. That comes through in some of my work, definitely in my painting.
“Cubism simplifies forms and allows you to play with light. It doesn't have a single source of light.”
In a reference to British painter Francis Bacon, known for his tortured, maniacal or menacing figures, the side of one of Rogers' faces is swiped away.
“You take ideas from wherever you can get them. With art, there are no boundaries. When people say don't do something, the first thing you do is go and do it.”
Another area of the gallery will be given over to sculptures, largely made from papier mache and resin. Among these works are various organic forms inspired by oddities and objects collected over the years, from Rogers' 1992 exhibition Another Place.
“I created a different Jurassic era, an alternative phase of evolution,” said Rogers.
“The whole concept evolved from a crab claw. Then it morphed because at the time we were bombarded with images of the war in Iraq.
“There will be heaps to look at.”