Paul Cullen Archive

Building Structures +

2017

Curated by Marcus Moore and Allan Smith with Paul Cullen Archive.

For ST Paul Street Gallery, Auckland

In 1979, artist Paul Cullen installed 30 quasi-architectural balsa wood models around the walls, ceilings, and floor of Auckland’s empty, ready-to-close, Barry Lett Galleries. The exhibition was called ‘Building Structures.’ In May 2017, Wellington curator Marcus Moore partially re-constructed this exhibition in Massey University’s The Engine Room. For St Paul St Gallery, Moore and Auckland curator Allan Smith have collaborated to scope something of the range of the late Paul Cullen’s preoccupation with the languages and materials of speculative construction.

Diagrams, model-making, and various forms of temporary support structures pre-occupied Cullen for almost four decades. Cullen was interested in graphic and three-dimensional diagrams of the world and its busy retinue of things. He was drawn to the systematic—to a world of organised complexity and accented differences—but also to forms of systemic collapse and categorical absurdities. This fascination with objects, their modes of representation, and their precarious lives in time, coloured the artist’s abiding interest in architecture, gardens, landscape design, technological illustration, systems of measurement, domestic furniture, and philosophical fictions in which things and spaces tell strange stories of inversion, suspension and irrational propagation.