Cindy Sherman, City Gallery Wellington

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The first New Zealand solo exhibition in more than 25 years by internationally-acclaimed artist Cindy Sherman at City Gallery Wellington is on show until 19 March 2017.thumb_cindy-sherman-untitled-466-courtesy-the-artist-and-metro-pictures-new-york-the-artist_1024

New York-based Sherman is widely considered one of the most influential artists living today. Her practice has challenged and shaped the way we think about contemporary photography and her works confront stereotypes and cultural clichés, probing at society’s fascination with issues surrounding the representation of women and the cult of celebrity.

For over forty years, the New York-based artist has used herself as her own model in staged photographs, transforming her appearance through make-up, costumes, wigs, prostheses, and more recently, digital effects.

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Her chameleon-like transformations offer a sustained, cutting and at times disturbing investigation of gender, social conditioning, narcissism and celebrity culture. Cindy Sherman is a major exhibition of Sherman’s photography since 2000, the moment where she returned to photographing herself after a decade of wilful absenteeism from her own work. Cindy Sherman features over 50 large-scale photographs created since 2000, and includes images from fashion house collaborations with Balenciaga 2007-2008, and Chanel 2010–2013 as well as the iconic ‘Head shots’ 2000-2002, ‘Clowns’ 2003–2004 and ‘Society portraits’ from 2008. The exhibition also includes her most recent series referencing old Hollywood glamour along with a large scale, site-specific mural.

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City Gallery Wellington Curator Aaron Lister says, „Visitors will get a rich sense of everything Sherman has made since 2000. She works in discrete and bounded series – this exhibition samples generously from every series from the last 16 years. We see Sherman reappearing as a model or a character in her photographs, and also her embrace of digital photography to open new possibilities or worlds for these characters to inhabit.“

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There will also be a related exhibition of Sherman’s found photographs, albums and scrapbooks. This collection of other people’s photographs—some of which were first shown at the 2013 Venice Biennale—demonstrates how she trawls the collective image bank of culture, and her fascination with how other people present themselves through photography.

Accompanying the exhibition there will also be a series of film screenings – many of which have been selected by Sherman – that have informed her practice, including her own film, Office Killer (1997).

City Gallery Wellington is the only New Zealand venue. Until 19 March 2017.

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Photos: Courtesy of City Gallery Wellington.

 

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Dave Goodin, Sculptor, Stewart Island

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Dave Goodin lives as an artist and sculptor on Stewart Island. He offers classes of Jade (New Zealand greenstone) carving. It is a journey into the 3D realm. „I like to show my students the third dimension which they experience when they carve a piece for themselves. It is a remaining jewel, some art from the south of New Zealand. And whenever you rub greenstone it comes alive in your hands.“

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Talking with Dave about his life: „As a young man I was logging trees in New Zealands North Island until a falling tree injured me. I could not work anymore. As soon as I recovered from the accident I wanted to change my life. All the time I was interested in Maori art and I began to study it at a community college at Hawke’s Bay. This was back in the mid 1980s. In my second year of college I taught children lessons in Maori art. In the meantime I developed my own style, my own pieces of art. At that time I used cow bones.

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For the next 4 years I lived in London where I had my first exhibition in 1997 with my pieces of carved stones and bones. As a bread job I worked as a porter in a hospital. In 1999 I lived for a while in China as an English teacher. Still I continued my art. I liked living in China, the country and its culture impressed me.

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Back in New Zealand in 2002 I got a job with Sir Peter Jackson, producer of the Lord of the Rings movies. As a sculptor I worked on the movie setting. I entered a magical world. In total I worked for him for 4 years.

Also I participated at the production of the movie King Kong. I was responsible for everything in the movie which looked green: plants, trees, landscapes. The next film production was The legend of Zorro, with second-unit photography in Wellington.

In 2014 I came to Stewart Island to visit a college friend. I felt in love with the place and I never left. Why? Because of its amazing environment, the few people here, no pollution and because of the weather which always is a surprise.

Want to know more? Contact: davegoodin464@gmail.com

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A journey into 3D realm. Dave teaches the art of greenstone carving in his studio on Stewart Island.

Lala, Painter, Udaipur

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I met Dhrur Sharma, nick name „Lala“ in Udaipur. His gallery is opposite the Hotel Pichola Haveli. He shows his paintings in miniature art. The 38 years old artist paints for the last 21 years. He got inspiration from his artist family. For one painting he needs about 9 days with daily 6 hours of work.IMG_4259 (Large)IMG_4258 (Large)IMG_4257 (Large)IMG_4261 (Large)

 

Burçin Erdi, Painter, Istanbul

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA„I like to watch movies. Normally I look at them in the night and I draw my inspiration from the moving pictures. Indeed, I like fantasy and science fiction movies.“

Burçin Erdi

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAfter more than 2 years I met Burçin Erdi again in Istanbul. I visited the painter in her studio at the Anatolian side of town. We had a drink together and she told me about her last exhibition in summer in Boston, USA. And that she got married to an Istanbul movie director. She seemed to be very happy. In a few months she is expecting her first child.

I saw her new impressive series of pictures. They are mostly made of dark colours. Burçin got inspired by the recent refugee tragedy which leaves Europe breathless.

„I cannot close my eyes when people are dying. Therefore I painted them. I combine them with Athletics, with sportsmen. I just saw many photos from extreme sportsmen. I looked in their faces and I recognized that they all have the same expression. The same as those from people who are dying in the war or between borders. When people are crossing borders they do have all the same expression in their faces.“KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And Burçin focuses on those images: Dying faces.

Refering to her dark pictures she shows me one of her recent paintings with a group of people at night, all starring in their smartphones and laptops. „That’s my so called blue light“, she admits.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Further she refers to Caravaggio and to Rembrandt. „They all painted pictures in the shine of a candle. Dark pictures.“

Good Luck, Burçin, on your new series of paintings!

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Thép Thavonsouk’s sight of the world

L1180634 (Large)Brussels, Begramoff Gallery. The walls are decorated with stunning pictures in light orange, red and mystical dark colors. And in between there is Thép Thavonsouk, the Laotian-Canadian artists, dressed in a light silk dress and glad to greet all the visitors. I am also invited to his art opening in an arty quarter of the Belgian capital.L1180635 (Large) L1180639 (Large)

It is the first time Thép introduces his paintings to a Belgian, and to an European, audience. Most visitors here have cosmopolitan backgrounds, lived all over the world, worked at different places. Also Guy de Vleeschouwer, the gallery owner. Some time ago he met Thép in his gallery house in Luang Prabang in the lush northern part of Laos and was fascinated by his art. He invited him and his paintings to Brussels and everything started.L1180645 (Large)

Talking with Thép is a pleasure for itself. He looks to his picture in a deep purple color and with the imagination of a lonely monk in it. And then he speaks: About his intention to paint, about the world and his longing to go back once in a while to his birth place Laos – despite of living for decades in Canada. To pay respect to his father and his mother, whose ashes are buried in the capital Vientiane. “I have to go there every year to find my inner peace.”

Then he finally refers to that one purple painting.

“In my opinion purple is a color of spirituality. I like to share it with my audience. It is time to look into ourselves and reach a sense of peace. There is so much chaos in the world. I just want to share a sense of humanity. There is so much sadness around, so many things which are going against my human being. I like to see people happy but lately I saw the opposite. There is now so much uncertainty in the world. As an artist I like to say that it is not bad to go on, just to go on. I hope when people see my art they can feel spirituality and peace and the positive way of living their lives.

I don’t want to see people living in a negative way. Light, one of the focus of my paintings, means to me happiness. This is my small way of saying that I hope there is peace and tranquillity wherever you are.”

Thép Thavonsouk’s plans for the future are easy to handle. “I like to enjoy every minute of what we have and keep on going painting 7 days a week.” The 68 years old artist adds that he is a passionate tennis player. His home for the last 48 years is Calgary in Canada. “It is there where I have my friends who became my family and where my only fight is that one at the tennis court”, he ends, smiling.

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Thép Thavonsouk, Painter, Luang Prabang

DSCF6967 (Large)„My world is a world of colors and inspiration.“

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As a young boy of four Thép Thavonsouk began drawing and sketching. In the early 1950’s his father travelled frequently to Paris. He would return to Laos with presents for his young son. One of the presents was a box of watercolour paints. Thép would twist open the tubes of paint and smell them. To this day he still recalls that miraculous moment when his father watched him begin painting with brilliant colours for the first time. The paint box, a gift from his father, was a memory box like “La Madeleine” was for Marcel Proust in “Remembrance of Things Past” (“A la recherche du temps perdu”).bathers-ii

In the early 1960s at the Lycée de Vientiane in Laos, the French artist and teacher Marc Leguay took Thép under his wing and introduced him to live drawing. Leguay also introduced him to the French impressionists Monet, Cézanne, Pissaro and the Spanish Picasso, Dali and Miro.buttlery-circle-of-friends

Thép graduated with a Baccalauéat and was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study art and international relations at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. His post graduate studies in Chinese painting were under the Taiwanese Masters Cheng Ming-Shien, Tien Manh-Shih, Li Pei and under Masayuki Miyata in Tokyo. At the end of the 1970’s, Thép quit his jobs as a French conversation teacher at the University of Lethbridge and English as a second language teacher in a high school. He dreamt of being a full time artist and playing his flute by the ocean. He decided to leave everything behind and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. This is the birth of his artistic soul.saffron-robes-g (Large)

His apartment in Hawaii also served as his studio. He was free to paint and create at all hours, experimenting with several mediums, techniques and styles, searching for new ideas to incorporate into his art. Thép would wake up at two in the morning to paint before going to give tennis lessons at 7 am. His first Hawaiian exhibition was with a group of Honolulu painters who, on weekends, would come from all corners of the island to hang their paintings on barbed wire at the Honolulo Zoo fence for tourists to view and buy.monkswalking

“To be an artist is to be free to create without the heavy burden of fortune or fame.”

Thép Thavonsouk

His metamorphosis into a free artist encapsulated in a realistic watercolour painting of 40 butterflies with the red sun blazing in the background. It was titled “Destinés à un vol libre”. The sense of freedom led the artist to discover and paint Hawaiian fauna and flora, koi fish and the ocean waves for six years.june-rain-eThép went to Canada in the 1980s where he worked for a federal government agency helping immigrants from many countries to learn English. Having discovered butterflies free flight in Hawaii, Thép began to express the themes of solitude and peace in his work. He began to examine his soul and the world around him. He created art with the deep attachment to the earth and its seasons – the light, the water, the clouds, the mist and fog and the monsoon rain. Images of loneliness and strength made their appearance in Thép´s art in the late 1980s. Thép was drawn to his birthplace Laos. He travelled back to visit his mother. The monsoon rain, the fog and the mist from the Mekong River and the flow of monks´ robes became themes of his paintings.Saffron-Robes-in-Purple-Sky-1 (Large)

“My feelings are leaning more and more toward the elements. My work is not sentimental. I do not want my work to depict something that tells the whole story or speaks to a well-defined narrative.” Thép´s saffron robes series shine in the light of a field of orange.

Thép Thavonsouk with a visitor at his gallery in Luang Prabang.

Thép Thavonsouk with a visitor at his gallery in Luang Prabang.

Today his art speaks to modernity and tradition with equal dedication. It shows a deep understanding of both Asian and Western history and visual cultures. He found a way to incorporate these into his work.

Thép´s art has been collected by corporations and individuals in 5 continents and is shown in permanent collections at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Canada and the Singapore Museum in Singapore.nocturne-with-sunset-32

“Even though I have had many creative and international opportunities open to me, I knew deep inside these art and painting were my passions. It is a good thing I let my passions prevail, as the emotion, intensity and serenity of my work have blessed everyone who has experienced and attained one of the wonderful creations.”saffron-robes-d

My paintings are inspired by light and shadow.
I am moved by striking moods in the clouds,
rain and mist as well as
a flow of monks’ saffron robes.

There is a palpable hush of wonder with
no fixed perspective in my works.
My paintings grow out of silence;
a dreamlike morphology suggesting tranquility and
a sense of spirituality as figures dissolve
into landscape.

The fleeting passage of their quiet moments seen
on my canvas and rice paper shines the light
on the immensity of our universe and
the insignificance of human beings.

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Exhibitions of Thép Thavonsouk in 2015 are in September in Brussels, in October in The Netherlands, in November in Vientiane/Laos and in December in Paris.

Photos: Enric Boixadós (2)