2 x 2 Contemporary Projects

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Media Release: August, 2006. 

Exciting Contemporary Art at City Gallery.

City Gallery Wellington is pleased to present 2 x 2 Contemporary Projects, a series of two exhibitions, each showcasing two contemporary artists’ solo exhibitions. Fresh and innovative, these artworks and artists are at the forefront of contemporary practices.

While these are four distinct exhibitions, each with their own sets of agendas and concerns, they have been carefully selected by curator Emma Bugden to generate dialogue. Individually they explore a diverse range of issues from the impact of colonisation on Maori to the never-ending resonance of a heritage in a distant land. Together they create a conversation about the complexity of personal and cultural identity in today’s urban and global environment.

“What I want to show is an intimate and particular view,” says Edith Amituanai. In Mrs Amituanai, Amituanai (nee Sagapolu) photographs her extended family and friends to explore the relationship between personal and communal rituals and the way traditions change across time and geography. The exhibition features a series of photographs of New Zealand Samoan weddings, including her own wedding where she became Mrs Amituanai. Significantly she is one of twenty photographers selected for inclusion in the recent major publication Contemporary New Zealand Photography.

In Back to Mine: Urban Realities, we see Kelcy Taratoa standing in an urban environment dotted with references to the New Zealand urban landscape immediately familiar to all New Zealanders— a 4 Square, street signs, state houses. Entering this world are superheroes—Spiderman, Batman, the Hulk and the Silver Surfer. The paintings, with their rich collision of iconic images, construct a complex topography which charts the impact of colonisation and globalisation on local cultures. There are no explicitly Maori images in the paintings apart from Taratoa; that absence speaks to many urban Maori raised away from their iwi, language and culture.

Lonnie Hutchinson and Sriwhana Spong feature in the second season. The blackness in Lonnie Hutchinson’s Parallel Seductions seduces as the colour of power and potential. Hutchinson, of Ngai Tahu and Samoan descent, has been exhibiting regularly in New Zealand and internationally since the late 1990s. In a flowing confident brushstroke, Hutchinson paints intimate large-scale drawings of women directly onto City Gallery’s walls. Hutchinson’s distinctive brand of iconography, loosely drawn from traditional Maori and Samoan forms, suggest a symbolic protection. The work is sensual, seductive and politically charged.

In 2005 video and installation artist Sriwhana Spong won the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award. Hailed by The Herald for her “great powers of invention…”, Spong addresses and explores links between physical and spiritual worlds, the known and the unknown and the differing cultural attitudes of east and west toward these states. Spong’s video and sculptural installation Twin Oak Drive places her own Balinese heritage alongside other areas of exotic and uncertain terrain—from space travel to horror movies, a Lynchian world where all is not as it seems.

City Gallery Wellington Director Paula Savage says: “It is a privilege to bring this exciting body of work to Wellington. As always, we are extremely grateful to Telecom, for joining with us once again in presenting leading contemporary New Zealand art to Wellington.”

Edith Amituanai/Kelcy Taratoa, 18 June– 30 July 2006

Lonnie Hutchinson/Sriwhana Spong, 5 August – 24 September 2006

2 x 2 Contemporary Projects

City Gallery Wellington

Free Entry

Principal Sponsor: Telecom