At the Gallery
The Mix: Razzle Dazzle
Jacqueline Fahey: Painting the Personal and the Political
Tod Greift In Kinderschar by Käthe Kollwitz
Pigeon Bay Creek, Banks Peninsula, N.Z. by Nicholas Chevalier
Untitled [Quentin (Kin) Woollaston Shearing] by Sir Toss Woollaston
We recently opened a new collection-based exhibition, Your Hotel Brain. Curated by Lara Strongman, it focuses on the cohort of New Zealand artists who came to national – and in some cases international – prominence in the 1990s. The title of the exhibition is a phrase drawn from Don DeLillo’s epic novel, Underworld, published in 1997. It gestures towards the way that pieces of information float through your mind, checking in and out, everything demanding attention, everything happening all at once – a metaphor for postmodernism in the 1990s and for the increasing slippage of context in the digital era. The 1990s were a time of great social and cultural change in Aotearoa New Zealand, set against a broader backdrop of globalisation and the rise of digital technologies. Artists, as ever, registered these cultural shifts early. We asked a number of people who were working in the arts at the time to recall their experiences of the 1990s.Continued
New Zealand artist Laurence Aberhart is internationally regarded for his photographs of unpeopled landscapes and interiors. He photographs places redolent with the weight of time, which he captures with his century-old large-format camera and careful framing. But he’s always taken more spontaneous photographs of people too, particularly in the years he lived in Christchurch and Lyttelton (1975–83) when he photographed his young family, his friends and occasionally groups of strangers. ‘If I lived in a city again,’ he says, ‘I would photograph people. One of the issues is that I even find it difficult to ask people whether I can photograph a building, so to ask to photograph them – I’m very reticent. I also know that after a number of minutes of waiting for me to set cameras up and take exposure readings and so on, people can get rather annoyed. So it’s not a conscious thing, it’s more just an accident of the way I photograph.’
My love of art started at high school when visiting the Robert McDougall Art Gallery. I attended art classes there and tried unsuccessfully to discover any latent talent! I joined the Foundation board in 2008 and enjoy what it brings to the city. My all-time favourite artwork is Mountain Stream, Otira Gorge by van der Velden. It is bleak and powerful.
Jacqueline Fahey: Say Something!
Overflowing with love, conflict and quiet despair, Fahey’s paintings from the 1970s bristle with the intensity of domestic life.
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In Pictures: Quasi
He whare whakairo ki te tohunga, he whare kōrero, he whare rangatira.
'The master carver’s house becomes one that is treasured and is revered.'
The focus of this painting is largely psychological. Figures and objects appear to emerge and recede between layers of paint, suggesting visions, memories or dreams, some of which are remembered clearly and others that return only as fragments. Although Séraphine Pick’s painting offers the viewer a choice of many possible interpretations, one obvious theme is that of changing or uncertain identity, shown in the concealment of faces through masks or blurring. Pick has painted some forms and figures onto wet paint, creating a faint, ethereal effect. Spaces are deliberately vague and planes overlap and interpenetrate with an individual logic and seemingly casual randomness which creates its own tensions and ambiguities.
Pick was born in Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands and graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1988. She was the recipient of the Olivia Spencer Bower Award in 1994 and in 1995 was chosen as the Rita Angus Artist in Residence. Pick was the Frances Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago in 1999.