Suji Park | oo0O0oo0O0oo0O0oo

Hi there!

It has been quite some time since I’ve seen the work of Suji Park, and since I’ve last written, but the end half of 2016?  Yeah… Anyway, I was very excited to catch her latest exhibition at Ivan Anthony Gallery with its fantastically onomatopoeic title, oo0O0oo0O0oo0O0oo, which continues with her foray into experimentation, process and material.

With tactile, textured surfaces that have been decorated, studded, doodled, moulded, Park’s sculptures are the subjects of her playful inquisitiveness; an inquisitiveness that is conferred upon her creations.  Many have small, curious faces that beckon you to lean in and look closer.  Some of which you genuinely have to, as they are displayed low on the wall below hip height.  Works such as Saii (2016, oil, acrylic and crystals on fired clay) and Ori (2016, oil, tempera and gold on fired clay) resemble unearthed idols or relics: intricately and lovingly detailed, and made semi-precious with the inclusion of crystals and gold.  I was quite intrigued by Saii, who bears a passing resemblance to the Grinch, and there is something familiar about a few of the figures (perhaps from Miyazaki?).

Park has utilised a gamut of materials in this exhibition: oil, graphite, clay, feathers, watercolour, tempera, synthetic hair, garnet, quartz, the list goes on.  These are best seen on the trestle table, a cornucopia of curiosities, with smatterings laid out amongst her sculptures.  Though seemingly displayed at random, they are not as arbitrary as initially thought.  The feathers, black crystals, small iridescent discs and so on, are presented just so, possibly implying that the works are unfinished and we are only seeing them mid-process.  There is an abundance of detail to submerse yourself in as you weave through the four rooms of the gallery, down to the red fingernails of Aah (2016, oil, tempera, watercolour, graphite, gold and pigment on fired clay) and a single braid of synthetic hair.

This melding and mixing of materials in her work is fascinating.  Park has brought together finished and unfinished substances such as fired and unfired clay, and painted in tempera, a traditional medium made from colour pigments and egg, used for religious icons since the early centuries AD.  Her process of experimenting investigates the processes themselves, as she breaks the materials down and sees what else they can become.  There are a liberating number of potentialities and forms that her work can take on; they have chimeric qualities, and this adds an element of the unknown and the unexplored.  You do wonder as you glimpse upon them at this moment, what they will look like over time – will some of the elements fracture, break, sprout or disintegrate?

There is a lot to captivate with Park’s exhibition, and I recommend taking in the splendour with a bit of sun gleaming in through the windows.  That way you can enjoy the glint and grooves of the materials that make up her sculptures, in particular Dol Vii (2016, fired clay, non-firing clay, unfired clay, epoxy, garnet, mica, plastic, glass, acrylic, watercolour, tempera, quartz, chipped foam and plaster) as there is a lot going on there 😛

For images of the works, please see the gallery website:

oo0O0oo0O0oo0O0oo by Suji Park is on at the Ivan Anthony Gallery, near the corner of East St and K’Rd until Thursday 23rd February 2017.  Park has also released a publication, Original Unknown with images of her work thus far, and essays by Charlotte Huddleston, Emma Bugden and Karl Chitham.  It is available from the Ivan Anthony Gallery.

Thanks for reading!



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:



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 😀


Musings on Art

Untitled (Pair) by Rachel Whiteread

Gracing the east terrace of the Auckland Art Gallery is an arresting sculpture by Rachel Whiteread.  I studied her work, albeit briefly, at university and am very excited to see one of her artworks in person!

Hailing from Britain, Whiteread primarily works in sculpture and most of her artworks are casts.  She utilises traditional casting methods and various materials such as bronze, concrete, resin and rubber.  Some of these materials are normally used as moulds in the creation of sculptures, yet Whiteread treats these moulds as completed works.  She explores presence, memory and space, and a number of her artworks represent a space once occupied.  Her art can appear familiar yet strangely unfamiliar at the same time, kind of like Freud’s the Uncanny.  One of her works, Ghost (1990, plaster on steel frame, 269 x 356 x 318 cm, National Gallery of Art Washington DC) illustrates this, as she formed a negative cast of an entire living room of a Victorian townhouse, thus absence is given presence.  When asked about this work, she said she wanted to ‘mummify the air in the room’.[1]  What a quote!

Here is an interesting video (about 8 mins long) where Whiteread discusses Ghost:

This work Untitled (Pair) (1999, cast bronze and cellulose paint, 90 x 77 x 204 cm, Auckland Art Gallery) features two positive casts of a mortuary slab.  They seem nearly identical in shape and size, down to slender lip that runs around the edge, except the convex sculpture is actually a cast of the concave one.  Thus, they fit together when one is stacked on top of the other (like Lego!) intimately intertwined, as if they were made for each other.  I was somewhat reminded of Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium, where he explains that humans originally had double bodies before being split by the gods, and they longingly seek out their other half in order to become whole again.

Auckland Art Gallery’s blog Outpost has some great photos of Untitled (Pair) please follow the link below:

These companion pieces are minimalistic in their design: they have been painted a pristine, clinical white all over, but are actually crafted from bronze, one of the sturdier materials that Whiteread employs.  The bronze I feel, could represent longevity as if these were tombs in a mausoleum.   Furthermore, white as a colour carries connotations of purity as well as the supernatural, symbolic of life and death.  These sculptures also look like twin beds that couples had in ‘50s films and TV shows; areas that are lived in.  Hence, there is this ambiguity with her works as to whether they deal with existence or loss. 

Whilst mortuary slabs represent death and mortality, she emphasises our relationships with each other by placing this pair devotedly together.  These sculptures can be seen as proxies; they sort of stand in for us, and illustrate our need for closeness both in life and death.  They are like a cute couple, sweet but a bit morbid, especially as you realise that the concave sculpture borrows its sloping surface from the way that a mortuary slab drains bodily fluids…  Yet by drawing attention to the space we inhabit, she ultimately creates new experiences for the viewer.  There is a silence to her works as her subdued style is more evocative and suggestive, rather than overt.  I find them eerily fascinating and filled with complexities that ask ever so softly, to be revisited.

Whiteread also has a captivating artwork called Holocaust Memorial (1995-2000, concrete, 390 x 752 x 1058 cm, Judenplatz, Vienna) in the Judenplatz town square in Vienna, Austria.  Created as a memorial for the 65,000 Austrian Jews that died in the Holocaust, this work is a negative cast of a library with all four walls coated in rows of books.  These books are positively cast with their spines facing inwards and the pages exposed.  The double doors are also inverted; hence this is a library that no one can enter.  Crafted from concrete, there is a weightiness and permanence with this work – this library cannot be removed or forgotten, and nor can the memories of the people who died.  I find this artwork beautiful and interesting, and it is on my Vienna ‘To Visit’ list 🙂

Untitled (Pair) is on a long term loan to the Auckland Art Gallery from Erika and Robin Congreve.  It is on view until Wednesday 30th November 2016, so there’s plenty of time to check it out!

Also, here is a song I can’t get enough of at the moment, that perhaps inspired my thoughts on these works 😛  ‘I Come Apart’ is by Florence Welch aka Elizabeth Siddal’s doppelgänger (did you know her mother is a professor who has written books on Renaissance art? Too cool) and A$AP Rocky, a Harlem rapper with serious swag, who honours his murdered brother by adopting his French braid hairstyle (and sometimes likes to call himself Lord Flacko).



[1] Education Division and the Department of Web and New Media Initiatives at the National Gallery of Art, Rachel Whiteread: “Ghost”. Video recording. Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 2009.


Things Beyond Our Control | Suji Park, Cornelia Parker, Jun Yang

I have always been intrigued by memories – how items can spark varying associations for different people, some new connections and others from ions ago.  The human mind is a wondrous and complex thing, and this is what drew me to Things Beyond Our Control at ST PAUL St Gallery.  Curated by Charlotte Huddleston, it features Auckland-based artist Suji Park, and international artists Cornelia Parker and Jun Yang.

Upon entering the gallery, you navigate your way through what feels like concrete ruins.  This sparse open space allows you to reflect on mnemonic clues to unearth what has occurred.  Kind of like discovering an abandoned house in an episode of The Walking Dead 😀

Here is the artsdiary link to some images of the exhibition:

The first work you encounter is by Suji Park.  It stands as a solitary signpost, beckoning you into the space.  This artwork seems like it grew straight out of the ground, with its aberrations, protrusions, and trunk like plinth.  With the barest splashes of pastel hues, Park’s sculpture is organic with a quirky charm – I am not a hundred percent sure what it is, but that may be her intention 😛  All I know is that it has a curious allure; it is both weird and wonderful, and highlights her palpable attention to surface.

At the opposite side of the gallery, Park’s other works are more geometric when compared to her first sculpture.  The rectangular and square blocks are all a scatter, like remaining puzzle pieces, each a potential memory trigger.  The title BUK 330-399 is the name of the suburb in Seoul, Korea, where she used to live.  Park has formed aspects of her home from her own recollections; the house has since fallen into dilapidation.

Her works are not flawless and standardised – their handmade quality is evident in their varying sizes and roughened exteriors.  The imprecision of these sculptures can be likened to the way that a person’s memories are not exact.  Things are never quite as you remember them, and sometimes they are better or worse.  Nevertheless, I think the creative process is important: a way for Park to engage in nostalgia, and for the viewer to take a sepia-toned trip down memory lane as well.

Now let’s tackle the huge tent in the middle of the room.  Transitional Object II by British artist Cornelia Parker is an imposing work.  Suspended, waiting, her installation is crafted from black safety nets and tethered to the ground by small bags filled with lead shot.  The title references paediatrician and psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott, who stated that a transitional object is a security or comfort blanket used by children as a substitute for the maternal presence.[1]

Such netting has connotations with the armed forces and hunting, something that is used to ensnare or conceal, yet it also resembles a safety net.  Furthermore, the title indicates protection – tents function as shelter, but where are the doors on this?  And the visible gaps in the weave provide little refuge or privacy.  Hence Parker’s work has many contradictions, and I feel there is this constant, foreboding tension as to whether it will fall or swoop. 

This installation elicits a sense of anxiety and apprehension.  The netting looks like a spider’s web, which brought to mind The Cure’s ‘Lullaby’ (how great is that song!) and Admiral Ackbar alarm bells were ringing in my head.  Yet her work also incited other associations as well: funny, wistful thoughts of forts my siblings and I used to craft from chairs, sheets and pegs; flashbacks to school camps where tents would collapse in stormy turbulent weather.  The discernible suspense created from not knowing, makes Parker’s installation all the more captivating.

Lastly Jun Yang’s compelling video work, A Short-Story on Forgetting and Remembering follows a male protagonist as he nocturnally roams a cityscape marked by stretches of never-ending neon.  The artist is our narrator (he hired an actor for the protagonist) and he relays his thoughts on memories, identity and displacement, as he was born in China, grew up in Vienna, and currently divides his time between three cities.  This city is never named, yet its landmarks and the closing credits reveal it to be Taipei – though I feel that the sense of dislocation, both personal and cultural, is archetypal of many immigrant stories and any big city.

Yang describes how as a child, his classmates would often spend time with their grandparents, yet his lived further away so he would only see them occasionally.  His grandparents gave him a gold Parker pen, which he prized – he now had something that all the other children did, and he suitably ‘wrapped reality to the image he needed’.[2]  This work is bookended by references to Blade Runner (1982): Yang opens with a description of implanted memory, and concludes with the protagonist flicking past the film on TV. 

This notion applies to Taipei as a city, whose history is constantly being rewritten and reconstructed over its urban landscape.  Its identity has been punctuated by numerous events, such as the retreat of the Kuomintang Army who brought Chinese national treasures with them, and altered Taiwan’s cultural heritage from 400 years to 5,000 in an instant.  Yang ends poignantly with a metaphor of overlapping real wood with a veneer, and if the surface fulfils a need and ‘the necessities of that moment, perhaps that is enough’.[3]  Thus the barrier between the real and the imagined is muddled, it becomes less significant, and we treasure the memories even if they fade beyond our control.

Wow that was really long, I’m sorry about that!  I really wanted to do justice to each of the works in this thought-provoking exhibition.  Things Beyond Our Control is on until Friday 21st March 2014 at ST PAUL St Gallery, St Paul Street. 

I also found this Radio New Zealand interview with Cornelia Parker from March 2010 (she collaborated on a work with Tilda Swinton where Tilda slept in a display case):

Thanks for visiting and reading to the end!


[1] Charlotte Huddleston, ‘Things Beyond Our Control, Suji Park / Cornelia Parker / Jun Yang,’ ST PAUL St Gallery, accessed February 19, 2014,

[2] Jun Yang from the screenplay for A Short-Story on Forgetting and Remembering, 2007, quoted in Charlotte Huddleston, ‘Things Beyond Our Control, Suji Park / Cornelia Parker / Jun Yang,’ ST PAUL St Gallery, accessed February 19, 2014,

[3] Ibid.