Hany Armanious: Selflok

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Media Release: August, 2014. 

Elves, beer steins and wax ice-cream cones are all part of Hany Armanious’ whimsical, mysterious and playful installation, Selflok,  which is coming to City Gallery Wellington from 6 September.

Curator Robert Leonard says, “Selflok is Middle Earth on drugs. It's so fitting to be showing it in the town that made the Lord of the Rings trilogy.”

The Egyptian-born, Sydney-based artist created Selflok following a eureka moment when he saw images of elves and dwarves in the swirling textures of cheap wallpaper. The work is littered with bits-and-bobs. Like a giant mantelpiece, it overflows with seemingly random yet intentionally riddled objects, some melted and others overlaid on a makeshift platform of fake-wood polyester shelving, crowned with a pergola.  A frozen river of hot-melt nectar weaves through the centre of the work. The scene is evocative, offering unexpected configurations that suggest a Santa’s workshop, a hobbit foundry or an elven distillery.

Armanious first experimented with 'hotmelt' (an easily melted and shaped commercially produced synthetic latex) during a residency programme at the 18th Street Arts Complex in Los Angeles. His first solo exhibition in the United States was at the UCLA Hammer Museum in 2001 where Selflok was described as existing 'somewhere between Middle earth and the interior design of a cheap hotel'.

“I'm a huge Hany Armanious fan. He's one of my favourite artists,” says Leonard. “Selflok may be his most famous work. It's a huge, complex installation—the culmination of years of work. I've written about it, but I have never actually seen it—I know it through photographs. Part of my motivation for showing it is selfish, because I have always wanted to see it in the flesh. I hope other people will also enjoy this rare opportunity.”

About the artist:

Hany Armanious was born in Egypt in 1962. In 1969 he moved with his family to Sydney, where he currently lives and works. In 1993, his work was chosen for the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale, and in 1995 he participated in the Johannesburg Biennale in South Africa. In 1998, he was awarded the Moet and Chandon Australian Art Fellowship. Selflok was recently shown at the Govett-Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth and his exhibition Morphic Residence  was at City Gallery in 2007. Armanious' show The Golden Thread was Australia’s sole contribution to the 2011 Venice Biennale.

Hany Armanious is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; Foxy Productions, New York; and Michael Lett, Auckland.

Hany Armanious: Selflok
5 September – 30 November, 2014

For more information and images, contact:
Olivia Lacey : Olivia.lacey@wmt.org.nz
04 801 4258 | 021 022 40312

Image: Hany Armanious, Selflok (1994 – 2001). Photo: Bryan James, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery