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27 June - 08 November 2015

Susan Te Kahurangi King and Shannon Te Ao: From the One I Call My Own

Susan Te Kahurangi King is a 64 year old self-taught artist who stopped speaking around the age of five. She draws, endlessly and inventively—in graphite, coloured pencil, pastel and ink. Shannon Te Ao (Ngati Tuwharetoa) is a contemporary artist whose videos and performances often isolate and re-figure aspects of spoken language drawn from Maori cultural forms such as whakatauki and waiata. Both artists are highly acclaimed, in very different fields. When King was showing in the prestigious Paris Outsider Art Fair in 2013, Te Ao was the sole New Zealand artist included in the 19th Biennale of Sydney.

This provocative pairing opens up points of convergence between two bodies of work that occupy different ends of the contemporary art spectrum. Both artists are makers who utilise found sources or materials. Each employ a loosely shared repertoire of repetitive gestures, figurative rhythms and formal improvisation to generate a highly distinctive artistic language that operates on the world in very specific ways.  

At the heart of these practices is a clash between the verbal and the visual, communication and non-communication. King’s drawings counter her inability to speak. Te Ao takes found language and embeds it into performed actions and gestures. Both practices could be termed performative. 

The exhibition, upstairs at City Gallery, includes new drawings by King, including a previously unseen suite of work based on a set of paper dolls sent to her by musician Alastair Galbraith. Te Ao presents two shoots that stretch far out, his video presented at the Sydney Biennale.