Venice Biennale Project 2001: Peter Robinson and Jacqueline Fraser

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Media Release: March, 2003. 

Artworks by Christchurch-Berlin-based contemporary New Zealand artist Peter Robinson will show at City Gallery Wellington from 23 March to 29 June. This special installation of sculptures and digital prints, titled Divine Comedy, was exhibited in mid-2001 at the prestigious 49th Venice Biennale in Italy – the world’s oldest and most important visual arts event. With this project City Gallery Wellington brings the two New Zealand exhibitions from Venice Biennale 2001 back for local audiences.

City Gallery Wellington will be the first New Zealand gallery to present works from the site-specific installations by Peter Robinson and Jacqueline Fraser which showed in Venice in 2001. Under the title Bi-Polar, the New Zealand exhibition attracted considerable attention in Venice. Wellington audiences will see these important works at City Gallery just before New Zealand is again represented at Venice in June 2003 by conceptual artist Michael Stevenson.

Divine Comedy was created in 2001 when Peter Robinson was artist-in-residence at New Plymouth. The title of the exhibition comes directly from Alighieri Dante’s infamous book Divine Comedy. The installation features a series of sleek sculptures and digital prints based around complex concepts of existence and draws together unlikely points of reference from Alighieri Dante’s Inferno to quantum physics and Stephen Hawkings’ book A Brief History of Time.

Peter Robinson has fast gained an international reputation. Born in 1966, Robinson became well known in New Zealand in the 1990s for his work that investigated issues of biculturalism and New Zealand race relations. Although Robinson’s work no longer explicitly addresses issues of identity or biculturalism, his signature use of traditional Maori colours of red, black and white is still central in his work.

Robinson has been included in significant exhibitions overseas since 1994 including the Asia Pacific Triennale and the Sao Paolo Biennale in 1996, the 1998 Sydney Biennale, the Lyon Biennale in 2000, the Seoul Media City Biennale 2002 and the “Centre of Attraction” Baltic Triennale 2002. The recipient of the inaugural 2000 Creative New Zealand international residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Robinson has strong ties to Berlin and bases himself between Germany and New Zealand.

Peter Robinson - Divine Comedy is an outcome of Peter Robinson’s residency in 2001 at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery as a participant in the Taranaki Artist in Residence Programme, a partnership between the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki, Te Kura Matatini o Taranaki. This residency was generously supported by Creative New Zealand, Toi Aotearoa.

The work from this exhibition formed the basis of Peter Robinson’s installation in the exhibition Bipolar. Bipolar represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and was an initiative of Creative New Zealand, Toi Aotearoa.

JACQUELINE FRASER: A DEMURE PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST STRIP SEARCHED

23 March – 29 June 2003

For the first time since the Venice Biennale 2001 New Zealand audiences will have the opportunity to see the exquisite work of one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognized artists, Jacqueline Fraser. An exhibition of the wire works and light boxes Jacqueline Fraser created for her site specific installation A DEMURE PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST STRIP SEARCHED at the world’s oldest and most important visual arts event, open at City Gallery Wellington on 23 March.

With the New Zealand Venice Biennale Project 2001 City gallery Wellington brings the two New Zealand exhibitions from Venice back for local audiences. Jacqueline Fraser and Peter Robinson were the first two artists to represent New Zealand at the prestigious international art exhibition. These two separate exhibitions, grouped at Venice under the title Bi-Polar, attracted considerable world-wide attention. New Zealand audiences will see these important works at City gallery just before New Zealand is again represented at Venice in June by conceptual artist Michael Stevenson.

For this exclusive exhibition at City Gallery Wellington, Auckland-based Fraser has reconfigured details of her Venice installation. The work is the first in Fraser’s trilogy of installations which continued throughout 2001 at the Yokohama Triennale, Japan and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Presently focusing on her dealer galleries in Sydney and New York, Jacqueline Fraser is also currently featured in a show at the Museo de Arte, Bogata, Columbia called Solo Dibujo (Just Drawing) as one of their featured international artists.