Bill Culbert's first exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery includes a number of new sculptures made of plastic bottles and fluorescent tubes as well as a large group of small black and white photographs taken over the past forty years.
Since the late 1960s, Culbert has made minimal sculptures that refer to both the physics and metaphysics of light. Fluorescent tubes pierce plastic vessels, illuminating them from within. Culbert's bottles are containers of light, their interiors, their thickness and the secrets of their construction revealed. The simple and definite materiality of Culbert's objects is given an extra dimension by their ghost-like emanation. They are factual in their material presence and metaphoric in their allusion to the natural world. Using generic, ready-made, mass-produced components, Culbert creates assemblages that are modular and monochromatic. These two aspects of his work establish his signature and aesthetic rhythm. When colour does appear in his sculptures, as it does in the bottles and caps of some of the smaller works in this exhibition, the attractive optical quality of colour is opposed to the dazzlingly luminous presence of actual light. Light, that which enables vision is also that which cannot properly be looked at.
The large, architectonic floor piece, Black, Day, Light, with its luminous, branching vertebrae around which is loosely massed a collection of dense black bottles is like some monumental, photosynthetic leaf form. The series of Black on White wall pieces, 4-bottle modules partly painted black, suggest the passing shadow phases of a lunar cycle. They are both light emitting and light blocking. Culbert's photographs (shadows fixed on light-sensitive paper) deal with objects and light similarly to his sculptures, focusing on both objects subject to light effects and other curiosities.
Bill Culbert has been exhibiting his sculptures and photographs in the United Kingdom, Europe, USA, New Zealand and Australia for over forty years. A major exhibition of his work was held by City Gallery Wellington in 1997. Culbert was included in Toi Toi Toi: 3 Generations of New Zealand Art at the Art Museum Fredericianum in Kassel Germany in 1999 and in the 1990 Biennale of Sydney (curated by Renee Block). In 2002 he exhibited in the Second Asia-Pacific Triennial with a joint work with Ralph Hotere (with whom Culbert has done a number of collaborative works). Culbert has completed numerous major public commissions, recent examples include a large neon work for the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Tower in Auckland, and Skyline for the Millenium Dome in London. Since 1957, Culbert has divided his time between London and France. Daylight and Nightlight is Bill Culbert's first exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.