This article first appeared as 'Painting offers a multiverse of symbols' in The Press on 21 June 2017.
See Italy and Die
‘A man who has not been to Italy is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.’
Samuel Johnson, 1776
As every traveller knows, there is something obsessive about setting out on a journey: the preparatory work of consulting guides, the organisation of itineraries, the accommodation pre-booked, bags packed with essentials, provisions for the journey assembled. This essay explores the metaphor of a journey, with the particular Italian twist that informs the work of the artists gathered together in the exhibition The Weight of Sunlight.
Christchurch Art Gallery is the heart of the city.
The Gallery has an incredible team of forty Volunteer Guides – and we want more! We’re currently seeking expressions of interest for ten enthusiastic individuals to join us.
In early March we were lucky enough to have the incredibly talented Grayson Gilmour performing at the Gallery, supported by the equally talented Purple Pilgrims and New Dawn. I love these gigs, but there is a lot of work to be done behind the scenes to make sure that, by the time the public walk in the door, the foyer is gig ready. The process normally feels like a long, slow marathon with a sprint at the final corner. So here’s a guide to how you too can get the NZI Foyer gig-ready in five (or six) easy steps.
Yellow Moon: He Marama Kōwhai
Yellow is a colour with impact – it’s time to encounter its brilliance.
It’s always a mistake to look at an autobiographical work and assume the artist is speaking directly about the events of his or her own life. For the past couple of decades, Ronnie van Hout has used his own likeness, and sometimes his childhood memories of growing up in the Christchurch suburb of Aranui, as the starting point for his work. The figures are him, but they’re not him. “It’s a form of acting, a kind of masking”, he’s said. “I’m interested in childhood and revisiting sites of the past. It’s very hard to go back. But in the visual arts, things stand for things; they’re not the actual things, they’re just in place of. You’re pointing to something that points to something else.”
Ersatz is a German word meaning stand-in or replacement. It’s typically used to refer to something that’s of inferior quality than the original. Ersatz coffee, for example, is something that isn’t coffee at all. Ersatz (Sick Child) is one of a number of ‘sick children’ that van Hout has made in his own likeness. Each wears boy-sized pyjamas but has the head and hands (and in this one’s case, also the grubby feet) of a full-grown man. He leans precariously against the wall on two legs of a chair, as if eavesdropping on adults in another room. The silence is filled with his own whiny voice emanating from the speech bubble-shaped speaker above him, as if his need to be noticed were drowning out even his own thoughts: “Look at me. Listen to me. Pay me. Pay me your attention.” Works of art always demand your attention, but this one has the temerity to say it out loud.
(Your Hotel Brain 13 May 2017 - 8 July 2018)