Largely executed using discarded shipping and packaging materials and containers, Fine Dining – Basher’s first Christchurch show – brings the issue of material flow, resource exploitation and consumption to the table – in this case literally. Featuring paintings, a large silhouette forest, recorded natural soundscape and a walk-in shotgun shack, fine dining is a culinary event of a wholly different order, where material consumption is the main course. Viewers enter a dimmed gallery to meet images of a dour-looking ‘Government-man’ painted in formal portrait and a series of smoke filled landscape paintings. Drawing on the old adage ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire,’ these images provide the smoke, and offer up the protagonist, but leave the cause and type of fire tucked from sight. Past the paintings, a stand of 40-odd sculptural pine trees will surround a trash-strewn clearing, where a cramped, rickety shack loudly advertises itself as a restaurant. As viewers enter, they will discover the role of the ‘G-Man’, the cuisine served, and if they look hard enough, the ultimate source of the smoke.

The faces of doom.

Fine dining.

Fine dining…

This IS an installation and painting show, however the whole thing reeked of some ethereal madness –some… extreme lack of normality to the point where I began to wonder just weather or not the whole thing had secretly installed itself.

I’m pretty sure (and have some reliable sources in dreamland) that this show actually arrived in -MIST FORM- and wafted it’s non corporeal self into this Gallery. It then changed its complete molecular structure and resubstantiated itself in its current form. The HIGH Street Project art gallery has been completely transformed. It’s almost like the set of a play; trees float all around you –emanating a strong and resilient energy; if you looked at them the wrong way, and threatened them, they would surely take you out, but at ALL OTHER TIMES those puppies will rustle-rustle it to death in beautiful caressing moments, hoping not to be destroyed underneath it all.

The focal point of the installation was a shack. A total I’m-in-the-middle-of-the-bush kinda dealeeee that you could totally walk into. There was even a table that you sit at. Some weird guy had been there by the looks of it, but- he is not there anymore.

This scenic installation goodness was however surrounded by, um, DOOM. Doom in painting form I guess. The walls were pelted with the harsh truths of our world. This effect was absolutely amazing. The whole set was executed brilliantly. Managing to be subtle and abashed at the same time, this show is a composition –and the composer is a genius:

Martin Basher.

All the work in the show is made up of Company packing crates/boxes and used commercial postal/moving material which is perfectly fitting for the subject matter of the painted works. These beautiful paintings depict a variety of scenes usually involving Industrial Plants/Cites –the blackest of black smoke billowing from them. Always absent of human beings, these works are perfectly communicating the “Corporate Blind Eye” stance. I guess it’s also aimed at the everyday person as well though, trying to bring attention to the fact that what ever doesn’t immediately and directly effect us, is for the most part ignored.

The baron images of the paintings are surrounding and essentially suffocating the floating trees inside.

It’s owning me.

The artist has also repeatedly used the image of former C.I.A Counter Terrorism Ambassador Cofer Black. His gruff, sinew-saggy archetypical politician/corporate-man face is staring right at you regardless of what entrance you take into the gallery. But the focus is not so much centred on Mr Black himself, he simply has the perfect face to define fat-company-cutthroat-environment-killing fuck ups I presume


All in all, the entire show manages to be relevant, technically brilliant, subtle, unconscious and amazingly direct all at once. A superbly executed set of ideas, captivating and inspiring.

Tristen Deschain

Basher, N.Z. born, completed a Degree in Fine Arts from Columbia University in New York City in 2003. After several further years working for artists and museums in NYC, he is now currently based in Wellington.