Featuring architecture, dual approaches to the possibilities of painting now, and video work from South Korea, the Winter Season at City Gallery Wellington (June – October 2012) offers a broad set of encounters with contemporary art. Following back-to back full gallery exhibitions, the season offers four separate exhibitions spread across all of the major gallery spaces. While these full gallery exhibitions (Prospect: New Zealand Art Now and The Obstinate Object: Contemporary New Zealand Sculpture) have presented an in-depth investigation of specific aspects of contemporary New Zealand art, these four new exhibitions operate discretely, yet have points of crossover and connection.
Rohan Wealleans presents Apocalyptic Intuition, a new body of work made for City Gallery Wellington. Pushing his investigations into paint as a life-giving physical substance, Wealleans uses the act of painting as a transformative or shamanistic force that reaches far beyond rational explanation and purpose. For an artist obsessed with the material qualities of his medium, Wealleans never allows paint to sit still. It is always in the process of becoming something or somewhere else.
Wall and floor based painted objects combine in this exhibition to suggest an elusive character-based narrative rooted in fantasy and science fiction. The Gallery is transformed into something other and alien. It becomes a place of enchantment, spells, quests, and especially paint, layer upon layer of the acrylic house paint through which Wealleans creates these other realms and summons the characters that dwell there.
Supporting Partick Thistle surveys Wellington painter Robert McLeod’s cartoon-based figurative work of the last decade. Rejecting their modernist origins and driven by an ever-pressing need to take new form and acquire new energies, McLeod’s paintings are governed by a bawdy, cartoon-based figuration. His paintings heave with confounding imagery, amorphous figures and riotous crowds that have fled the frame and come off the wall to invade the physical and psychological spaces of the viewer. This is all driven by McLeod’s belief that to remain relevant painting needs to push its own conventions and boundaries, that it can no longer sit quietly and reverentially on the wall.
The exhibition predominately draws from the last decade of McLeod’s practice, focused on his large scale, multi-part paintings on shaped plywood. It makes brief forays into earlier work to insist that while this is a practice in constant evolution, it remains firmly committed to various principles around the role of painting in the contemporary world.
The Gallery also presents a long overdue investigation of New Zealand architect Ian Athfield. Curated by Julia Gatley and developed with architect Ian Athfield, Athfield Architects: People and Place traces four decades of the firm’s dynamic history, presenting a vivid sense of the architect and his vision.
Established in 1968, Athfield Architects continues to present architectural forms which respond proactively to the pressing challenges of our time: the need for sustainable design, quality social housing, public space which reflects its community, and collaborative practice. The exhibition sits alongside Gatley’s major publication of the same name which will be launched by Auckland University Press in conjunction with the exhibition.
The Winter Season marks the start of a new City Gallery Wellington initiative – the North Programme. The inaugural project features video work from The Michelangelo Pistoletto Band. This Seoul-based duo’s live and recorded performances subvert the form and delivery of music videos, often to address charged political issues around the impact of urban development in Korea. The band will also perform at City Gallery in August as part of a tour of New Zealand. This performance tour is a joint initiative between the Calder & Lawson Gallery, University of Waikato and City Gallery Wellington, and is generously supported by the Asia: New Zealand Foundation.
Winter Season, City Gallery Wellington, 22 June- 7 October 2012, Free Entry www.citygallery.org.nz