The art practice of Lisa Munnelly is distinguished by a focus on materiality, often striking a contrast of restraint and excess, with stark forms furnished by elaborately worked surfaces. Her focus on the materiality of drawing in particular, is to showcase the interaction between material and environment. This interaction is a dialogue between body, space, surface, light, time and movement.
Munnelly’s recent solo show Slowburner, incorporated all of these elements. Installed onsite the drawings addressed how the audience entered into the space, how the artist’s body occupied the space over a period of time and how light interacted with the architectural interior of the site.
The work White Cube / Black box will be exhibited at Wellington LUX. On the drastic change of lighting in the modern museum display with the introduction of technology, Boris Groys writes that when new media is introduced into the museum space it is then put into the dark “This sort of night is an entirely new development. If we look at the history of the museum collection there was always a stable condition of visibility”, the title of the work reflects this shedding of light in the museum space. The materials employed, point to the destabilising effect brought about by the advent of technology, transforming what was solid and present; literally ‘pinned down’, into something moving ungraspable, interactive and immersive.
The point of interest behind Munnelly’s ongoing examination into the play of light upon different material surfaces is eloquently captured by the French art historian Henri Focillon who rightly asserted that the relationship between light and surface is a dialogue not a one way conversation stating that materials; “depend on light-on the light that models them, that brings out the solids or the voids, and that makes the surface the expression of a relative density. Now light itself depends upon the substance, which receives it. Upon this substance light may flow easily or come firmly to rest, it may to a greater or lesser degree penetrate it…”