One of the works by local artist Lisa Chandler being exhibited at the Suter Gallery. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Images of protest and repression

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BY PAM HENSON

You have until Sunday to see local artist Lisa Chandler’s striking images of protest and repression at the Suter Gallery.

Chandler’s ‘The Dividing Line’ exhibition bears powerful messages for today’s New Zealand – a situation which has tragically come about since the exhibition opened.

Her large-scale works, painted and incised, using baking paper and linen, show masked gunmen and riot police, helmets and shields, protesters carrying placards, figures beating victims, and others crouched as they help the beaten and downed.

Chandler is interested in the anonymity of the armed riot squads as well as the new publicity that rioting and repression gain through social media. Figures holding cameras and cellphones photograph the violence.

Images of protest include the tent cities of the Occupy movement and the conflict between protestors and riot police.

In some images, a quiet reader or worshipper demonstrates the peaceful nature of the protests the artist identifies.

There are significant resonances between what Chandler portrays and the recent shooting in Christchurch. The situations are entirely different, but protest and violence, religion and death feature in both the real events and the artist’s vision.

However, Chandler’s dramatic works are paradoxical because her colour palette of blues and ochres show us a beauty which is entirely at odds with her subject matter. The subjects are disturbing, but the visual effect is surprisingly meditative in many of the works.

In a novel working style, she changed, completed and re-worked several of the paintings at the Suter in the two weeks before the exhibition opened. Two works representing poster-papered walls were begun and completed on site.

Lisa Chandler lives and works in Golden Bay and in Leipzig, where she has a workshop in an artists’ community of around 100 artists, the Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei.