Seung Yul Oh’s memmem

I was very excited when I read that Seung Yul Oh was going to be exhibiting at Starkwhite on K’Road.  I enjoy his work and have been patiently waiting for an exhibition in Auckland, especially when I had read about his show MOAMOA which was a joint project between Dunedin Public Art Gallery and City Gallery Wellington.  It was just a matter of time for his works to make their way up the country 🙂

memmem is of a smaller scale when compared to MOAMOA, which was a large survey of Oh’s oeuvre for the past decade.  You could almost liken the size of the exhibitions to the letters in the titles being of lower and upper case.  memmem continues to explore the diverse mediums that Oh employs: in this, he presents a bevy of paintings and an assortment of sculptures, all minimalistic and of muted hues that befit the stark ivoriness of the space at Starkwhite.

The six canvas paintings are all titled Periphery.  They are nearly entirely white save for their edges – each edge is painted with a different colour, and no two coloured borders are the same on the six works.  These paintings are of a size that their edges could easily become secondary or incidental when standing before them.  Yet here, Oh brings the peripheral in, enlivening them with colour and challenging how we would traditionally view works of this stature.  In a way the focal point has now become the perimetric borders, though it also could be said that the colours serves to highlight the achromatic canvas and its simplicity.  It is also interesting to note the way that the contrasting colours meet in the corners of each painting – three of the corners resemble butt joints whilst one resembles a mitre joint.

I just adore Oh’s Dottori sculptures.  Larger than life, these five gorgeous acorns are made from fibreglass and two-pot paint, and have a reflective, polished lustre.  Each have a distinct shade for the nut, cupule and stalk of the acorn, yet the five sculptures share a rotating colour scheme of pale yellow, teal, grey, white and duck egg blue.  I really wanted to pick one up and give it a hug 😛  Like almost all of Oh’s sculptures and installations, these are experiential and interactive: they invite a response from visitors and incite curiosity and playfulness.  Seemingly placed at random on the floor of the gallery, Oh’s works often create fascinating incidences to observe people’s behaviour and how they navigate his art.  Through readjusting the gallery space, new activities, meanings and conversations are generated by each interaction.

Seriously, just look how cute the Dottori are!

Another delightful work by Oh, in collaboration with Jeff Nusz, is called Rain and is available to play online.  Click on the link below and tap away on your keyboard 😀

Check out memmem before it concludes on Saturday 29th November 2014 at Starkwhite, K’Road.


Musings on Art

Through the Revolving Door

It is that time of the year again: Artweek Auckland!  And, I got on one of the collection tours!  I missed out last year as they book up fast, but I was determined this time around, and had my game face on.  I chose the Chapman Tripp and ANZ Centre tour, as the collection contains a number of impressive artworks by fantastic artists.

The artworks in the ANZ Centre foyer were selected by Paul Baragwanath, director of ARTTFORM, in consultation with architects Warren and Mahoney (WaM), Precinct Properties and ANZ Bank.  Each work was commissioned, and there is an overarching theme of the natural world and drawing the outdoors in.

Working in an anti-clockwise fashion from the main revolving door that opens onto Albert St, is the first of many stunners.  Placed near the escalators on the far right of the building, Birds and Boats (2013) by Neil Dawson features intricate sailboats constructed from painted steel.  The abstracted pattern could also resemble the wings of birds and swelling waves.  The burnished metal catches and throws light, of which this building has an abundance of, and further highlights the complexity and detail of Dawson’s sculpture.  When viewed from the main doors, the eye is drawn to the contrasting geometry of the spherical shape of his work which is framed by the square gap in the inner wall.

Neil Dawson, Birds and Boats (2013). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Neil Dawson, Birds and Boats (2013). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Moving up the escalator from Dawson’s artwork and behind the concierge’s desk, is an inescapable work titled Orangery (2013, vinyl installation on glass, 400 x 1600 m) by Sara Hughes.  This captivating installation consists of pale hued vinyl affixed on both sides of the glass, with slashes of green that look like blades of fresh grass.  Cut into the shape of leaves, the layering of the vinyl is reminiscent of fallen foliage.  Hughes’ work needed to be transparent to allow light into the foyer, and in a way it acts like a curtain to allow the ivy on the wall behind to grow.  I think it generates great interest – it makes you want to find a gap and peer through it, or examine the differing colour combinations created from the vinyl overlapping.  At certain times of the day, the leaves multiply as the vinyl casts shadows on the marble floor.

Sara Hughes, Orangery (2013). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Sara Hughes, Orangery (2013). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Sara Hughes, Orangery (2013) (Close up). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Sara Hughes, Orangery (2013) (Close up). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

It is pretty hard to ignore Winston Roeth’s work.  In a Silent Way (2012, Kremer pigments with polyurethane dispersion, cellulose and water on aluminium core board panels, 4565 x 4264 mm) comprises of 12 panels, each with a distinct hum.  American artist Roeth created all the colours himself, and they can be difficult to characterise.  At different times of the day and with light streaming from various origins, the oscillations in the colours are fascinating and mercurial.  The gold borders on each are also of slightly differing shades: the gold on the top left orange panel and the far right purple seemed more bronzed, whilst it looked more silvery around the pale blue panel in the top row (at the particular time I was looking at them).  Roeth’s artwork is compelling to observe, and can be seen from many angles around the foyer, thus was designed without a singular focal point.

Winston Roeth, In a Silent Way (2012). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Winston Roeth, In a Silent Way (2012). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Circling around to the back left of the foyer is another Sara Hughes.  I have long been a fan of Hughes’ work and was delighted to find not one, but two of her commissions here.  Placed in a narrow, historic corridor is Wintergarden (2014, LED light and Plexiglas) an exquisite installation inspired by pendulous wisteria and other flora, like those seen in Auckland’s Wintergarden.  Each leaf/blade has an LED light which diffuses down and then along the length of the leaf/blade.  The subtle modulations in colour and light are computer powered, and the leaves/blades vacillate along the colour spectrum through blues, greens, purples, yellows and pinks.  With its low ceiling this work has a graceful, elegant magic, not unlike twinkling stars or a wind rustling through leaves.  As modifications could not be made to the corridor and wary that it would see its fair share of foot traffic, Hughes’ artwork responds to and invigorates the space.

Sara Hughes, Wintergarden (2014). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Sara Hughes, Wintergarden (2014). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Passing through the corridor you encounter Piki Ake_Rise Up by Peata Larkin (2013, acrylic on gauze weave on lightbox, 2400 x 3700 x 90 mm).  Positioned opposite the elevators that lead down to the carpark, her work acts as a welcome; a bright reception for those arriving from the basement.  Larkin’s process is engrossing: the surface of the weave is painted white and then sensational baubles of paint are pushed through the back, before it is mounted on an LED lightbox.  With its ziggurat design, the artwork has a glittery Art Deco vibe.  Larkin draws from her Māori heritage, as the design resembles the poutama (stepped/stairway to heaven) tukutuku panelling pattern.  The use of blue and white makes this work seem heavenly and transcendental, and it is extraordinary to view up close and at a distance, during the day and at night.  You can read more about Peata Larkin in a previous post I wrote.

Peata Larkin, Piki Ake_Rise Up (2013). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Peata Larkin, Piki Ake_Rise Up (2013). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Peata Larkin, Piki Ake_Rise Up (2013) (Close Up). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

Peata Larkin, Piki Ake_Rise Up (2013) (Close up). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

This post focussed on the artworks in the ANZ Centre foyer as they are easily accessible, yet if you are ever in the Chapman Tripp offices do take a look at their collection of objects.  All relate to the theme of sustainability and some to look out for are:

  • Sriwhana Sprong’s coke bottles, Givenchy perfume bottles, cow bells and matches, made from lac that will melt if left in the sun. Completely pitch black with a lustrous sheen, each item is delicately rendered and engages with the senses.  Sprong’s work points to the influence of consumerism and the throwaway culture that has arisen.
  • A paint tube made from greywacke by Joe Sheehan. The invention of the paint tube was a catalyst in the practice of painting, allowing the Impressionists to venture outside (en plein air) to capture scenes and changing light in the moment.  The weight of the tube could be likened to its importance in the history of art making, and that it cannot be so easily disposed of, as it is a solid rock that is common to New Zealand.
  • An axe with flowers growing out the handle by Peter Madden. Utilising old National Geographic magazines, Madden cuts up the images and pages to create this work.  There are themes of creation, destruction, rejuvenation and recycling with Madden’s art, and there is an interesting dynamic when you think of how axes are used to fell something yet here they have sprouted life.
  • Each of Janet Green’s ceramic goblets features a skull in relief, to serve as a reminder about mortality – a humorous placement for lawyers’ offices. The goblets have a delightful matte texture, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the search for the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).  Likely my fave out of the four films, probably due to Sean Connery 🙂

I hope you all got out and about to see some of the amazing things on offer during Artweek!

For more info on Artweek Auckland please see:



Peata Larkin’s Towards the Light

I finally got around to seeing Peata Larkin’s exhibition Towards the Light.  Curated by Kara Wallace at Corban Estate Arts Centre in Henderson, it finished last Sunday the 27th before I had a chance to post.  I try to view and write about exhibitions before they conclude, to allow readers the opportunity to see the works for themselves.  Sometimes it just doesn’t work out – there is not enough time!

But I wanted to write about Larkin anyway, as her art is fascinating, lusciously tactile and sublime.  I greatly enjoyed listening to her discuss her process and work during her artist talk.  I hope it will capture your interest and inspire you to see her artworks the next time she exhibits 🙂

What instantly drew me to Larkin’s works was her technique. Using a mesh grid, she pushes acrylic paint from the back to form patterns.  This colourful paint bursts through the grid’s holes, like bubbles flooding to the surface.  This gifts the paint with a three-dimensional sculptural quality, they are thick enough to cast their own shadows, and the orderly, controlled matrix is challenged by the unpredictability of paint spreading and sprawling.  There are echoes of Georges Seurat and Pointillism in Larkin’s style.  Not only does her work look sensational up close and at a distance, but who doesn’t love the idea of squishing stuff through a sieve?

Larkin is represented by Two Rooms Gallery in Auckland, please check out their website for some great close ups of her works:

There is a strong sense of storytelling in Larkin’s oeuvre – she communicates through these viscous baubles of paint.  Individually they resemble DNA, pixels, binary code; they can be seen as containers of information, ancestors on a family tree.  In their entirety, her works draw influence from Māori tukutuku panelling patterns, such as patikitiki (diamond/flounder fish pattern) and poutama (stepped/stairway to heaven pattern).  Larkin is reflecting on her own lineage (Tuhourangi, Tuwharetoa and Ngati Whakaue) as well as the way that we visually disseminate knowledge and history through pattern.

Towards the Light featured a mix of Larkin’s new and old works, all of which examine her interest in light. For instance Patikitiki 6 (X Factor) (2007, acrylic, mesh, fluorescent lights, lightbox, private collection) was her Master’s thesis and is actually mounted onto a lightbox.  Along with her other lightbox work, Starry Starry Night (2010, acrylic, mesh, flexiface, LEDs in lightbox, Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland) they appear lit from within, humming with their own life force.  These are in contrast with her new Wahine series (8 works, 2014, acrylic on mesh on canvas, Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland) where the natural light from the room illuminates them – four of these works are placed in the window sill, filtering the light and casting shadows to fabulous effect.  I particularly loved her Wahine artworks: each represent a woman left behind when the Māori battalion fought in Italy during World War II.  The colours in one work were drawn from the colours of a medal awarded to the soldier.

Larkin bridges a number of interesting dichotomies in her works: the two dimensional and three dimensional, the controlled nature of the grid and the spontaneous plasticity of paint, artificial and real light, close up and distance, and tradition and technology.  I enjoy the process of viewing her art, of marvelling at the beads of paint at a close proximity and allowing the eye to reconcile the magnetising pattern from afar.

I look forward to her next exhibition!



Melissa Coote: Painting, Sculpture, Paper

Australian artist Melissa Coote, whose first New Zealand solo exhibition was held at Fox/Jensen Gallery in 2012, returns with Painting, Sculpture, Paper.  The flyers for this show gave little away, thus I wasn’t sure what to expect.  My curiosity was piqued and there is nothing more I like than a good mystery 😀

A couple images of the works in the exhibition can be found on the gallery’s website:

As it happens, Coote’s exhibition comes up all hearts.  Every artwork across her heavily pigmented paintings, bronze sculptures, and photogravure prints, are of the heart.  Specifically they are of a bull’s heart, bar one sculpture which looks like a human’s (it was about the size of my fist).  Yet these are not your typical images that tend to take this ♥ symbolic shape; rather they are more realistic and functional, like beautiful illustrations you would find in an anatomy book.

Hence, she casts a new light on images of the heart through removing the powerful symbolism associated with it.  The heart is one of the most recognisable symbols with a multitude of meanings, usually of a romantic nature.  Coote’s works don’t elicit any amorous or sentimental notions, but instead asks us to reconsider images of the heart – to view it without considering the symbolism.

I was quite taken by Coote’s artworks.  Her photogravure prints remind me of natural history illustrations.  The hearts are rendered in such detail to highlight the intricacies of their shape.  The dramatic lighting and dense chiaroscuro would make Caravaggio proud 😛  I didn’t know much about the photogravure process, and I ended up Googling it (where would we be without Google?).

The link to an informative website can be found below:

I found the opacity of the obsidian black backgrounds of her paintings really made the hearts pop.  The surface is tactile and intense, and you can see the pigment has dripped, gathered and dried along the bottom of the linen canvas.  Reminiscent of Leonardo’s anatomical drawings, Coote’s hearts are exceptionally modelled, much like her stunning sculptures.  Two of these add small splashes of colour to an otherwise black and white exhibition, and they are truly remarkable.  It was also fascinating to see how large a bull’s heart is!  This is the first time that she has exhibited sculptures, and I hope to see more sculptural works.

Coote’s artworks are compelling in their craftsmanship and generate a sense of wonderment at the power of the heart.  We are dependent on this organ to live, to exist, and these raw works show the heart as it is.  Melissa Coote: Painting, Sculpture, Paper is on until Saturday the 16th August at Fox/Jensen Gallery in Newmarket.  Make sure to check it out!  And if you need further incentives, it’s across the road from an amazing cake shop Heart of Flavour and super close to Little and Friday 😀



Tokyo Love ♥


It has been a while since I last posted, and I hope this post finds you well 😀  I got away from Auckland recently, and finally visited the land of the rising sun.  I’ve been fascinated by Japan for a number of years, and I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to marvel at its epic wonders.  It did not disappoint!

In between getting my geek on in ‘Akiba’ (Akihabara), soaking in the tranquillity of Fushimi Inari Taisha, and having my senses overloaded by pachinko parlours, I managed to squeeze in a little art.  I visited two contemporary art galleries in the eternally intriguing city of Tokyo.

My first destination was Misako and Rosen in Kita-Ōtsuka.  Ōtsuka station is a quaint stop off on the forever busy Yamanote Line, a stone throw away from the big touristy spots such as Shinjuku and Harajuku.

Misako and Rosen, Kita-Ōtsuka (exterior). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

The small gallery is unassuming from the outside and a touch tricky to find, which simply makes the interior all the more captivating. Run by Misako and Jeffrey Rosen, it features stunning concrete stairs that sprawl the width of the gallery – a refreshing set up.  Climbing these stairs adjusts your perspective on the displayed works, offering a slightly altered view with each step.

Check their website for more on the exhibitions and add it to your Tokyo ‘To Visit’ list!

I managed to catch two exhibitions at Misako and Rosen; firstly Maya Hewitt’s The forgiven ghost in me.  Hewitt is a London based artist and has completed a number of residencies in Japan over the past decade.  Her paintings are detailed, figurative pieces that are haunting and sombre – small scenes that allude to so much more going on.  There are vibes of artists Remedios Varo and Séraphine Pick in Hewitt’s work.  Her figures appear quite static which gives them a childlike quality, yet also generates a feeling of detachment.  I find Hewitt’s paintings bizarrely fascinating, towing an ambiguous line between the intimate and removed.  I like to think that her figures are in such deep introspection that it barely registers on their faces.

The second exhibition was Made in Tokyo by Dutch artist Daan van Golden, and marks his first solo show in Japan since living there in the ‘60s.  Much like Pop Art, his works are greatly influenced by his surroundings – some of the patterns are adapted from found objects, such as wallpaper and fabrics.  One even bears the words ‘Mitsukoshi’ which is the name of a Japanese department store.  Yet some artworks bear splashy embellishments, and with titles like ‘Pollock’ there are evocations of Abstract Expressionism.  Through enlarging particular sections of patterns it is like seeing the images afresh, highlighting the inherent structure of the decorative and the intensity of van Golden’s focus.  Some of the works he has painstakingly painted, whilst others are Giclée prints.  You do get the impression that van Golden is a consummate collector, constantly discovering.  This exhibition presents a slideshow and photographs interspersed between his works, and I feel van Golden unifies life and art in this wonderful space.  Made in Tokyo runs until Sunday 1st June 2014.

After I posted this, Contemporary Art Daily popped some pics of the exhibition online.  Please follow the link below, which also includes images of those fabulous stairs:

And I thought I would add some directions for first time visitors, I hope they make sense!

1)     Jump on the JR Yamanote Line to Ōtsuka station and go through the North Exit

2)     Go down the centre left street which has a Starbucks on the corner

3)     Stay on this street for a while until you pass a ¥100 Lawson store and see a dusty park up ahead on the right

4)     Turn left (the Lawson’s isn’t quite on the corner but it should be the 8th street on your left, if you count the little lanes)

5)     The gallery will be on the left hand side of the street 🙂

My second stop was SCAI The Bathhouse in Yanaka, a historical old Tokyo neighbourhood.  The gallery was previously a 200 year old bath house, before being reincarnated in 1993.  Some of the amazing original detailing such as the sloped tiled roof, entrance hall and lockers are still evident, and exude a lovely ambience.  When venturing there from Nippori train station you pass through the tranquil Yanaka Cemetery, whose boulevards for a short time each year are covered in cherry blossoms.

SCAI The Bathhouse, Yanaka (exterior). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

SCAI The Bathhouse, Yanaka (lockers). Photo Credit: Raven about Art

A group show titled Visions of Proximity was showing when I visited, and showcased four contemporary artists of Asian descent: He Xiangyu, Haroon Mirza, Daisuke Ohba and Nobuko Tsuchiya.  Working across various mediums such as sculpture, installation and painting, the artists examine synesthetic perceptions, or the way that the stimulation of one sense creates a response in another.

Stepping into SCAI The Bathhouse is almost like stepping into a hallowed muted space.  And then you hear the whirring of Haroon Mirza’s Detroit Reconfigured (2012).  This installation features corner walls covered with acoustic foam, opposite a speaker topped with an unusual wheel shaped attachment.  At first glance it looks like the robot from Lost in Space (1965-68).  It emits a droning sound and flashes LED lights intermittently and seemingly at random.  I found the longer I spent with this work, the more I was able to find the rhythm within the arbitrary, inflicting my own sense of musical order as my perceptions of it altered.  Sight and sound began to behave like two instruments in an orchestra playing a beautiful symphony.

Weaving further into the gallery, you encounter Log (Waterfall Behind a Tree) (2014) by Daisuke Ohba hung on the back wall.  When standing before this work front on, it looks like a blank series of small tiles ready to blend into the white walls of SCAI.  Then you survey it from left to right, and back again, and there is the big reveal: an exquisite landscape lush with trees.  Light is your friend with Ohba’s paintings, unveiling like a magician, the image hidden within the work.  He uses iridescent acrylic paint to achieve the pearly white surface that captures and reflects light, and at times throwing colours in your path.  Ohba’s work is superb and serene, and I like the way he challenges how we typically view the painted surface.  I must admit I had heaps of fun crouching and straining on my tippy toes, querying what I was seeing and wondering how he did it 😛  Visions of Proximity runs until Saturday 31st May, do check out their other works along with those by He Xiangyu and Nobuko Tsuchiya.

Follow the link below for more info, and their access page has directions on how to find it 🙂

Another fantastic gallery that is a ‘must see’ is the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum in Marunouchi. The red brick building was designed by British architect, Josiah Condor in 1894.  It tends to exhibit European art of the late 19th Century, and the building and the neighbourhood is quite a contrast to the aforementioned galleries in Kita-Ōtsuka and Yanaka.  It’s worth visiting for the building alone, plus the courtyard looks totally ivy league 😛

Click on the link to learn more:

Until next time Japan, I’ll be back soon x



Karl Maughan’s Long View

I declare that summer is here!  With the days becoming long and sun-drenched, I thought that Karl Maughan’s exhibition titled Long View at the Gow Langsford Galleries, Lorne & Kitchener Streets, was excellently timed.  And boy, does it provide some competition for the view outdoors 🙂

Maughan’s work is a prime example of art that is best experienced in situ.  Photographs do not do justice to these dazzling, visually fascinating paintings that are popping with high key colour and splendidly textured surfaces.  At a distance his works appear photorealistic and precisely detailed, images of perfectly manicured gardens that are blooming in full force.  But then you get up close, and realise they are sublimely painted in oil.

His paintings are bustling with brushstrokes varying from mostly short to a few long, effortlessly dotted and dabbed all over with enviable skill.  There are lines for lavender, squiggly Ms for rhododendrons, loose swirls for camellias – what was previously seen with such clarity from a distance dissolves into abstraction.  Luscious shiny strokes of oil paint make you all the more aware of what comprises his works, and that such an image can be created by the touches of a loaded brush to a surface.

It is easy to be lulled into the notion that these are actual gardens that Maughan has directly lifted from life, but in fact they are constructed.  Though initially he began painting en plein air, he has since moved indoors and draws influence from colour photographs.  Maughan utilises aspects of several photographs and blends them to suit the composition he has in mind.  When you consider this, you begin to notice that all the flowers are efflorescing in plenitude, none appear to be waning, and the sunlight is gleamingly bright.  His works are more deliberate and considered than their suggested spontaneity.

His style and subject matter draws obvious comparisons with the likes of Claude Monet, Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh.  But when I think of Maughan, I am taken further back into the canon of art history (and back to art history classes at uni 😛 ) to Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621).

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, 'Bouquet in an Arched Window' (c. 1618, oil on panel, 64 x 46 cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague)

Photo Credit: Web Gallery of Art,

Bosschaert’s painting, Bouquet in an Arched Window (c. 1618, oil on panel, 64 x 46 cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague) is a still life with a number of blossoming flowers placed in a vase in an arched window.  The roses, pansies and tulips, to name a few, are minutely rendered in exemplary detail, yet this is an illusory image – the flowers in this painting would not have bloomed in the same seasons. Thus like Maughan’s work, the compelling realism of this painting is contrasted with their fantastical elements.  This plays on how we trust photorealistic images and what we expect, and I feel that Maughan’s works subtly indicate that something could be amiss with their garden paths that seem to weave into the distance and out of view.

Each of these works are quite large: they are all at least a metre in width and swathe the viewer.  Some of the works, such as Marchent Ridge (Oct 2013, oil on canvas, 240 x 360 cm) and Majoribanks St & Rata Rd diptych (May 2012, oil on canvas, 152.5 x 152.5 cm) are so enormous you could almost step into them (like the chalk pavement drawings in Mary Poppins) and take a meander between the bushes.

The work that is my particular favourite is Bell Road (2011/2013, oil on canvas, 183 x 305 cm).  I love the saffron yellow trellis along the top which is superbly vivid.  The rapid dashes that make up the flowers greatly contrasts the long smoothed paint application on the trellis and winding branches.  There are an abundance of flowers and plants, some of which are unusually coloured, such as purple and blue succulents.  The flowers are given almost equal competition by the dappled footpath, painted with speckled strokes of browns, beiges, whites and indigos.  Maughan’s gorgeous works are better than reality; they are how I would like to envision nature.

Karl Maughan’s Long View is at the Gow Langsford Galleries, Lorne & Kitchener Streets, until Saturday 30th November 2013.

You can peruse the catalogue for Long View below, but I promise it’s much better to see them in person 🙂


Musings on Art

Welcome, and hands together: Goldie meets Kihara

Welcome to my blog!

This is essentially a space to just write about art: artworks I am fascinated by, and local exhibitions (currently around Auckland, New Zealand) that have caught my interest.  I hope to entertain and inform, and generate a love of art within you.  So thank you for visiting, and for reading my first post ever 🙂

I have recently become addicted to the Arctic Monkeys’ AM; an absolutely brilliant album and a definite change in sound when compared to their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.  Their first track ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ is particularly addictive and eargasmic (the truth: I am listening to it right now).

A lovely friend mentioned an article on Buzzfeed that described how the intro to the above song was created with digitally enhanced clapping hands and slapping knees (This post will relate back to art, I swear).  This fun fact fascinated me, and I started thinking about the various hands I had seen in art, and two artists who immediately came to mind, were Charles F. Goldie and Shigeyuki Kihara.

You can read the Buzzfeed article here:

Reflecting on hands, I immediately thought of  Goldie’s painting, Memories, Ena Te Papatahi, a Chieftainess of the Ngāpuhi Tribe (1906, oil on canvas, 127 x 101.6 cm, Auckland Art Gallery).  Possibly New Zealand’s most famous portraitist, Charles F. Goldie (1870-1947) was renowned for his paintings of Māori figures.  His works are exceptional in their attention to detail and intense realism, yet simultaneously intriguing in that they are greatly staged, questioning their verisimilitude.

The wonderful hands in Memories are front and centre when you stand before this painting, capturing your attention.  Beautifully rendered, Ena’s hands are static but expressive, nearly with a life of their own.  I often wonder what kind of person Ena was, and what stories could be told from such hands.  There is a perpetual awareness that Goldie staged such scenes, particularly in the wistful, contemplative looks evident in many of his portraits, and his belief that he was capturing a dying and noble race.  Nevertheless, Goldie’s style is utterly meticulous, with the veins and muscles of the hands minutely lined, conveying the passage of time and filled with the memories of a life lived.

If you would like to see Ena, follow this link:,-a-chieftainess-of-the-ngapuhi-tribe

Hands play an expressive and dynamic role in the work, Siva in motion (2012, digital performance video, 8 min. 44 sec.) by Shigeyuki Kihara.  Wearing a black Victorian mourning dress, Kihara evokes the motions of the tsunami that devastated American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga in September of 2009.  Her silent performance is inspired by taualuga, a Samoan dance, and has been filmed in an overlapping stop motion manner that creates a spectral shadowing effect for each gesture.

I found this trailing trace of hands to be exquisite and hypnotising, reminiscent of an ocean’s rolling waves.  Some of her gestures are repetitive, and there is a rhythm of ascension and decline, similar to the surges of the sea.  Kihara also makes references to Victorian era chronophotographers, Étienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge with her stop motion effects, as well as the sprawling colonialism of that period, by donning a Victorian dress.  This richly layered work conveys the crossing of time and cultures, all in the entrancing and delicate motions of the hands.

Siva in motion was exhibited in the Home Akl exhibition in 2012, yet a video of the making can be found below:

I hope you enjoyed this quick survey of just a few of the great hands portrayed in art – from the painterly to the dynamic.

Thanks for visiting!