Anah Dunsheath in Hot Lines, at Artis Gallery, creates a series of dark piazzas as a stage where men and women, drawn with comic-book economy, act out dramas of attraction. Closeness defines their attraction and distances their alienation.
Their confused alarms and tensions are symbolised by their telephones. In Crossed Wires a man sports a cellphone in his waistband while his female partner holds a hopelessly out-of-date handpiece.
This is a world of night and the people who emerge out of the darkness are young and smartly dressed, with an emphasis on accessories of belts and shoes. There is a suggestion that they are celebrities. Often there are third parties lingering in the middle distance.
Amid the black and grey of the work are vivid touches of colour. Sometimes this is the brightly coloured case of a modern phone. At other times it is the vivid red of now vanished telephone boxes. In Mixed Messages, the red is a letterbox and the main actors are both carrying letters but going different ways while an athletic youth is exercising in the background.
Each painting is a melodrama about attraction and possession. All are open to interpretation and full of the implicit drama of an untold story which the viewer must supply.
Dunsheath has extended her work beyond painting into collages of photographs on to stainless steel. The photos are manipulated by using negatives or by using steel to sculpture the images into icons. Space Time is a tall, curved steel pillar with a polarised image of Sophia Loren on it. Two wall works have waves of steel and reach back to memorialise Marlon Brando and Ursula Andress.
It all adds up to a highly individual show, inventive and assured in its manner.