Ronnie van Hout: I've Abandoned Me

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Media Release: August, 2004. 

I’ve Abandoned Me samples the diverse practice of one of New Zealand’s liveliest and most irreverent artists: Ronnie van Hout. With scepticism and humour, van Hout engages with one of the central themes of contemporary art – ‘the construction of identity’.

A touring exhibition from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, I’ve Abandoned Me explores van Hout’s career-long reckoning with self-portraiture. Since art school, van Hout has been making works that ask “What does it mean to be yourself?”, and using doppelgangers, stand-ins, sly substitutions and sight-gags in his investigation of this question. As exhibition curator Justin Paton says, “Ronnie van Hout is making an exhibition of himself.”

I’ve Abandoned Me brings together works from the full extent of van Hout’s practice: sculpture, photography, moving image, model-making and even the odd embroidery. There are paintings that mimic corny t-shirts, silver suits for extra-terrestrials, miniature model families, and everywhere the image of the artist – latex casts of van Hout’s head, video projections of his face, and manifestations of his alter-egos, Sculp D. Dog and Monkey Madness.

Van Hout’s major work, On the Run, was a feature piece of City Gallery Wellington’s recent survey show of contemporary New Zealand art, Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand. Van Hout developed this interactive artwork in 2003-2004 when he was living in Wellington as the recipient of the Rita Angus Fellowship, a partnership between the Thorndon Trust, Massey University and City Gallery Wellington.

Van Hout has a significant exhibiting history in New Zealand. Over the past two decades, his work has featured in a number of major exhibitions, including Shadow of Style (1992), A Very Peculiar Practice (1995), Dream Collectors (1998) and Bright Paradise: The 1st Auckland Triennial at Auckland Art Gallery in 2001. He was recently announced as a finalist in New Zealand’s richest art award, The Walters Prize, to be announced in October.

Van Hout also has a rapidly growing international profile. In recent years his work has been shown in galleries throughout Australia, in Berlin and Kassel in Germany and in Los Angeles. With recent acquisitions by major American and Australian institutions, van Hout is consolidating his reputation in Australasia and the Pacific Rim.

Ronnie van Hout: I’ve Abandoned Me will be shown alongside the City Gallery Wellington exhibition Ernst Plischke, presented in association with Akademie der Bildenden Kunste (Academy of Fine Arts), Vienna and the Kaiserliches Hofmobiliendepot (Imperial Furniture Collection), Vienna, with the support of The New Zealand Institute of Architects and Housing New Zealand Corporation.

PRINCIPAL SPONSOR: TNS, providers of social and marketing research

Supported by: Creative New Zealand.