And That Was… April 2022

This edition of And That Was… was almost forgotten, such was the nature of April 2022. With March a hectic month, there was a feeling April would be quieter, but the reality was anything but relaxed. Months fly by these days, a combination of busy schedules and the constantly evolving Covid situation. April kicked off with a whirlwind trip to Tāmaki Makaurau for Ghostcat’s collaborative The Main Line exhibition at Limn Gallery, and as you might expect, a range of other adventures and encounters. On the home front, we have been launching a few new initiatives that will all become a bit clearer over the coming weeks… In the meantime, here are a few of the highlights from April!

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The Main Line opening @ Limn Gallery

We boarded a flight to Auckland on the 7th of April for the opening of The Main Line, a show featuring 28 custom-built miniature trains, produced by Christchurch’s own Ghostcat, each decorated by a graffiti artist paying homage to the iconic Spacerunner carriage (artists included Dyle 52, Askew, Phat1, Berst, Morpork, Lurq, Ikarus, Dcypher, Yikes, Freak, Vents and more). The opening was packed with names from the Aotearoa graffiti scene, reminiscing over a beloved part of the local culture’s history, making for an auspicious occasion.

Street Treats in Tāmaki Makaurau

With The Main Line opening on a Friday night, the rest of the weekend was left for exploring and the chance to navigate Aotearoa’s biggest urban centre. From the Mercury Plaza to legal walls in Avondale and many spaces in between, it was a treat to stumble upon works by some real heavy hitters and discover some new forces as well. A personal highlight was stencil don Component’s beautiful ballerina in Ponsonby…

Race A2D at The Avondale Pavilion

Another highlight of the trip to Auckland was the chance to catch Race A2D painting at Te Tūtahi Auaha – The Avondale Pavilion – the process documented by the man himself Dr Berst. The Pavilion is a fantastic concept that has become a key tool in the documentation of Aotearoa’s urban art culture. I might even appear in the background of the YouTube video a few times!

Slap City Billboard Takeover

The Slap City collective keep finding amazing spots and this empty billboard is a personal favourite – it might not be as central as some of their other locations, but it has an undeniable charm, echoed in Vez’s sppon drawer and played on by teethlikescrewdriver’s massive pencil. 10/10 would visit again.

Artist Talk with Jacob Yikes @ Fiksate

Jacob Yikes’ Even in Darkness exhibition was an April highlight in itself, a bold body of work that was candid and honest while still mysterious and evocative, but the chance to sit down and discuss the process with the artist with an enthusiastic live audience at Fiksate was a perfect way to end the month. The lengthy talk was an honest insight into the artist’s practice and the influences found in Even in Darkness.

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What made your list for April?Let us know in the comments… And if you have any events coming up, let us know by emailing hello@watchthisspace.org.nz

 

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Showtime! Jacob Yikes – Even in Darkness, Fiksate Gallery, April 1st, 2022

Jacob Yikes latest body of work, Even in Darkness, was unveiled at Fiksate Gallery on Friday, April 1st. The first solo show for the artist since 2018’s Bad Company (held at Fiksate’s former Gloucester Street premises), a reflection of the long road these paintings followed to realisation. A stunning collection of gestural, detailed, evocative and deeply resonant works, the crowd were enthralled by the incredibly honest, yet mysterious paintings. Drawn from the personal exploration of psychedelics to expand his consciousness and break his sense of ego, the paintings are an otherworldy experience…

All photos courtesy of Fiksate Gallery.

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Even in Darkness runs until April 30th at Fiksate Gallery, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham

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Jacob Yikes – Even in Darkness @ Fiksate Gallery

We were lucky enough to visit Jacob Yikes in advance of his new show, Even in Darkness, opening at Fiksate Gallery on April 1st, 2022. We talked about the inspiration and genesis of the show; a body of work begun in the first nationwide lockdown of 2020. Rather than an interview, we were inspired to write about the show and the questions that arise from a deeply personal yet incredibly complex and psychological series of paintings… 

The paintings of Even in Darkness are not easy to grasp. They are mysterious, evocative, and unsettling. They are filled with complexities. They are chaotic and dizzying while eerily still and quiet. They feel deeply personal and somehow universal and ultimately, not of this world. They are confident and assured, and yet they give little away, meaning must be teased out. There are familiar, recognisable elements, but the wider scenarios, and the juxtaposition of the disparate parts, proves beguiling and elusive. They reach for something unknown; they require surrender.

A Temple Full of Chemicals, mixed media on hardboard, 2022

Yet this dilemma is not solely faced by the audience. The artist has navigated a darkened path through the genesis of these paintings, at times guided by an unseen hand, understanding only the need for the paintings to emerge. Even in Darkness represents the artist’s journey, not answers.

Even in Darkness is a direct result of Yikes’ experimentation with the spiritual and medicinal potential of psychedelics. Researching the use of plant-based medicines, Yikes explored strong doses of mushrooms as a way to unlock experiences and in particular to question his own understanding of ego, consciousness and reality. In a darkened bedroom, Yikes underwent a life-changing experience, communing with other-worldly forms. The intense experimentation allowed Yikes to break himself down and piece everything back together; a new, clean version of himself reborn in the aftermath.

Drag ‘Em Between Worlds, mixed media on hardboard, 2022

Powered by an energy beyond himself, painting became the process for Yikes to attempt to explore and decipher these essentially indescribable experiences. Painted through intuition and feeling rather than deep, focused thought, the paintings have guided Yikes, speaking to him and telling him when to work and when to step away, the artist willingly surrendering control.

Each painting in Even in Darkness has undergone the same process, beginning with the painstaking preparation of a pristine, smooth surface, layers of sanded gesso and paint creating a tabula rasa from which the image to spring forth. The blank slate a microcosm of the artist’s internal journey. With the artist working on multiple pieces simultaneously, each painting began to take shape, elements constantly built upon each other. There is a greater sense of spontaneity and fluidity in these works, an instability that suggests that these images are actively seeking form, attempting to piece themselves together, stewing, pulsing, growing and changing. This quality is evident in the lack of defined line work, the impulsive qualities of the materials and their application left to breathe and form, like smoke.

Even in Darkness, mixed media on hardboard, 2022

While less interested in representation, there are still recognizable elements across the paintings. In A Temple Full of Chemicals, a rooster serves to evoke ego, while in Death Came to Dinner, a black raven signifies death, both speaking to Yikes’ own experience of ego death. Grotesque faces and hands and beams of celestial light reaching across and through the scenes highlight the ethereal presence felt by the artist throughout his experience. Yet, other elements merely hint at something familiar; architectural and organic forms (notably mushrooms, the conduit that unlocked the artist’s access to these strange realms) amidst strange terrains provide a tether between the known and the unknowable. Similarly, the horizontal strips that occur across the works serve as a grounding device between this world and the domains beyond.

These paintings are challenging. They represent a challenge willingly taken on by an artist constantly pushing himself, both creatively and experientially. While they capture something beyond explanation, these paintings are also inviting. So, step into them, gaze deeply and explore, because even in darkness, there is light to be known.

Even in Darkness runs from April 1st, 2022 to April 30th, 2022 at Fiksate Gallery, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham

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