Showtime!

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland proved the place to be on April 8th, with two exhibition openings drawing crowds. We happened to be around and managed to catch both The Main Line, a collaboration between Ōtautahi artist Ghostcat and 27 Aotearoa graffiti artists that served as a love letter to the iconic Spacerunner train carriage, and Shiny Things, a collaboration between Hannah Maurice and Tanja McMillan (known to many as Misery) that created a beguiling world inside The Mercury Plaza gallery space on Cross Street (just behind the famed Karangahape Road). While very different shows, one grounded in history, the other mythology, both were well worth the attention…

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The Main Line – Ghostcat x Aotearoa Graffiti Artists, Limn Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, 8th April, 2022

Inside Ponsonby Road’s Limn Gallery, a two metre long replica of a Spacerunner, one of New Zealand’s, and New Zealand graffiti’s most iconic train carriages, takes centre stage. Carefully laid out on top and along the walls either side are even smaller versions of the carriages, rusted and covered in tiny recreations of the graffiti that would fly by when the Spacerunners were still in circulation around Aotearoa. The tiny carriages were built by Ghostcat in his typically detailed style, before artists spanning the country and generations, contributed designs, from Opto, Vents, Lurq, Morpork and Phat 1 to Wayst, Togo, Meep, Vesil and Siar267…

Shiny Things – Hannah Maurice and Tanja McMillan, The Mercury Plaza, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, 8th April, 2022

The Mercury Plaza, home to a collective of creatives, where visitors can find food, art, clothing and, if they fancy it, get a tattoo. On April 8th, The Mercury Plaza welcomed guests to the opening of Shiny Things, a collaborative world building by Hannah Maurice and Tanja McMillan (Misery); an exploration of the sacred female and the conscious/unconscious that employs a range of approaches to engage the senses. From McMillan’s paintings to installations that seemingly serve as shrines, an air of ceremony palpable. Opening night was busy, with a moving karakia adding to the resonance of the works that reveled in dance, ritual, myth and dreams…

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Do you have a show coming up and want to let us know? Email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz and fill us in with the details!

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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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Showtime!

Friday the 4th of March was a busy night, with two events marking the opening of significant urban art events in Ōtautahi, signalling an exploding energy in the local scene. First up was the opening event for the Flare Street Art Festival, held at the pop-up exhibition space on High Street, which is host for all the information you will need about the festival and a collection of work by Flare artists and a number of local stars. Across town at TyanHAUS, Slap City’s International Paste-Up and Sticker Festival was also celebrating it’s opening night, with the interior exhibition of work from across the globe completely taking over the space. We were lucky enough to make it along to both events, with a palpable sense of excitement permeating both spaces…

With both events taking place in the red traffic light setting, it was great to see the organisers ensuring people were masked up (except for a quick photo here and there!) and that group sizes were kept appropriate!

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Flare Street Art Festival opening event @ Flare Central, Friday, 4th March, 2022

Beginning with a opening address by Mayor Liane Dalziel, the Flare Festival launched on Friday (although artists had been at work on their walls since Wednesday the 2nd) at the Flare Central pop-up. The exhibited works ranged from Flare headline artists to a roster of local talent such as Chile One, Nick Lowry, Jacob Yikes, Ghostcat, Jen Heads and more. A relaxed vibe highlighted the feeling that such festivals bring, with new friendships and old connections re-established. Check out flare.nz for the festival’s full programme

Slap City presents The International Paste-Up and Sticker Festival @ TyanHAUS, Friday, 4th March, 2022

The Slap City collective have been an unmissable presence in the local scene over the last two years, their widespread community ensuring Ōtautahi has a thriving and diverse array of art in the streets. The International Paste-Up and Sticker Festival harnesses that diversity and community into an impressive exhibition and programme. Completely taking over the TyanHAUS space, the challenge proved to be where to start! Diving into the cacophonous selection of paste-ups, examing the sticker bombs or considering the Hello We Are exhibition, there was no shortage of attention grabbing activity! Follow the event on Facebook for more of the festival’s programme…

 

 

 

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And That Was… November 2021

Personally, the arts have provided a feeling of comfort throughout the challenges of 2020 and 2021, but November 2021 was a reminder of the struggle faced by the arts, not just in the midst of the Covid pandemic and all of it’s associated barriers, but more generally, the stark reality of the need to scratch and claw to survive. Many events and projects are produced on a shoestring budget and the realities of life as a creative are sobering, many balancing other careers and making time by burning the proverbial candle. Watching an Arts Foundation panel discussion featuring some of Aotearoa’s most renowned artists brought this reality into clear sight, sharpened and tempered by the determination of those from our community to continue to stage events and the audiences that provide support. So while the art life is hard, requiring a seismic shift in how we instill new attitudes towards the arts nationally, it is always so warming to know that the arts community is nothing if not durable and determined. November was a case in point, plenty of highs and unfortunately some lows, but all underlined by a sense of the need to keep on keeping on…

Chimp – Social Woes @ Fiksate

Wellington artist Chimp returned to Ōtautahi Christchurch and to Fiksate Gallery with Social Woes in November, with a body of work exploring the impact of social media on our state of mind and social networks and behaviour. Pushing his work towards increasingly fragmented compositions, Chimp has made some bold progressions stylistically while grappling with very contemporary issues…

Chimp finally got the chance to relax after a busy opening at Fiksate for his show Social Woes

Berlin Wall – Community Event @ Rauora Park

The installation of the Berlin Wall segments in Rauora Park in late 2019 was completed with relatively little publicity, many unaware of the historical significance of the concrete forms that appeared like painted monoliths from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In response, a collective of German expats, led by the amazing Alex Falk and Deutsch in Christchurch, staged Kia Ora Berlin, an event celebrating and exploring the history of the Wall’s deconstruction. Following an official ceremonial portion, the crowd were let loose on a scale wall produced by local artist Nick Lowry, with hoards of kids getting wild with spray paint, brushes and pens. The swell of activity lasted for an hour, until all the supplies were exhausted, a reminder of the power, and attraction of writing on walls, a reality heightened by the displayed photographs of the real wall on display nearby.

Nick Lowry’s Berlin Wall replica is painted by guests at the Kia Ora Berlin event

Farewell to The Giant Cans

Not far from the Rauora Park location of the Berlin Wall event, the Giant Cans at the Place Making at One Central site were enjoying a last hurrah, with a graffiti art workshop led by the DTR crew. A unique and participatory urban element, the Cans have hosted hundreds (if not thousands) of visitors, and literally layers of paintings, messages and scrawlings, since their installation in 2018. Now deconstructed, the cans are seeking a new home. Fingers crossed these iconic forms, originally created for the Spectrum Festivals at the YMCA, can return soon…

The Giant Cans begin their deconstruction from the Place Making at One Central…

Daken’s Emporium @ 413 Local

Although I didn’t make it along to opening night of Daken’s Emporium, I was glad I headed down to 413 Local on Tuam Street to check out the impressive output of customised toys and other goodies, from Daken and several guest contributors. Charming in their lo-fi DIY nature, it was packed with nerdy, playful and earnest references to films, comics and cartoons (most definitely after my own heart)…

A small selection of the creations on display for Daken’s Emporium

Arts Foundation State of the Arts Panel

The only event not to occur in Christchurch to make the list this month, the Arts Foundation‘s State of the Arts Panel was live-streamed late November and featured the impressive line-up of Dr Fiona Pardington, Shayne Carter, Oscar Kightley, Simon O’Neill and Moana Ete. Moderated by Miriama Kamo, the panel reflected on the state of the arts in Aotearoa in 2021. A lively and passionate discussion, it raised the striking reality that the arts, and artists, remain under-funded and under-valued. While the panel made clear the challenges, the passion of the speakers vitally reflected the need for collectivism, for digging in and for fighting for the cause…

What did we miss? Let us know what you would have added to this month’s list and stay tuned for more And That Was… entries in the coming months

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Showtime! Art Walls @ The Welder, Sunday 28th November, 2021

Our first edition of Showtime! featured a host of shows that all opened on the same night – likely a rare occurrence. Another rare occurrence is the Sunday night opening, but with the necessities enforced by the never-ending Covid pandemic, new is kind of the norm. Art Walls is an ongoing and revolving installation concept based at The Welder, rather than an exhibition with a specific opening, the concept, developed by Kyla K, is more organic throughout its run. However, everything has to have a beginning (or at least the beginning of the 3rd iteration) and Sunday afternoon (crowd restrictions meant the timing had to match Welder restaurants being closed) saw the launch of the latest batch of artists to shine, with LKM, Josh Bradshaw, Paige Jackman, Ryan Robertson, Louann Sidon, Ikarus (DTR Crew), Lydia Thomas and Mike Williams (who also served as the opening event DJ!) all featured. We were there and enjoyed catching up with some of the artists and a pohutukawa and strawberry session mead from Buzz Club (who knew?), and here is the proof…

LKM (Lara Kate Marshall) and Jesse Rubenstein in front of LKM’s work
Lydia Thomas and her bloom pieces (with real flowers adding a new twist!)
Josh Bradshaw’s tiny barbed wire roses were picked, but not for you…

 

Ikarus’ grimy miniature graffiti scenes…
Ryan Robertson’s Stew Art, mixed media on canvas
Louann Sidon’s beguiling watercolour and metallic powder works
And, to top it off there were goodest bois as well…

 

If you have a show coming up, let us know! Email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz with the details…

 

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Showtime!

The first Friday of November proved a popular night for exhibition openings with three shows celebrating openings at the same time! The sun was shining into the evening, making it a great chance to enjoy a social(ly distanced) occasion and, of course, the art of talented locals and a popular visitor from the capital. At Fiksate, Wellington artist Chimp returned to Christchurch for his new solo offering Social Woes, an investigation of the impact of social media on our contemporary existence, while over at 413 Local Gallery on Tuam Street, Daken presented Daken’s Emporium, a selection of his customised toys and comics (along with some special guest contributors), and at the Boxed Quarter, the talented team from everyone’s favourite art supplies store Gordon Harris hosted In the Hours After, a group show featuring multi-disciplinary work from Peter Pinckney, Carrie Dingwall, Klaudia Bartos, Bebe James, Olivia Isabel Smith, Louann Sidon, Theresa Waugh, Seonaid Burnie and Al Joice.

It was pretty tricky to make it around all three shows, and while some were impressively able to manage the logistical challenge, for many others, it was a case of picking one. So, for those of you who didn’t manage to get to all of these shows, this is for you!

Chimp – Social Woes @ Fiksate Gallery, Friday 5th November (until November 27th)

Fiksate was looking pretty spiffy to mark the opening of Social Woes…
While outside, the crowd enjoyed the sunshine in a makeshift outdoor area (Photo credit: Fiksate Gallery)
Chimp, the man of the hour, eventually got the chance to relax after a busy opening evening, here with his work Mental Weight (mixed media on board, 2021)…
Birds of a Feather (mixed media on board, 2021) highlighted some of the stylistic progressions in Chimp’s latest work…
As did Eyelash Wings (Acrylic, digital print and aerosol on panel, 2021)
Social Woes runs until November 27th at Fiksate, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham

Daken – Daken’s Emporium @ 413 Local Gallery, Friday 5th November (Until November 10th)

Over at 413 Local Gallery on Tuam Street, the space became an imaginarium of Daken’s playful custom toys… (Photo credit: Daken)
Including a replica of the artist’s workspace (Photo credit: Daken)
There were his Dak Bird cut outs and the Hands of Film series… (Photo credit: Daken)
And custom cereal boxes (packed with goodies), zines (A Dog’s Mind 2 – Electric Boogaloo!) and comics (note the powder-filled Scarface blister!) (Photo credit: Daken)
As well as a selection of prints – from fantastic creatures to the Emporium and even Toxic Mutant Joes Master Wars! (Photo credit: Daken)

In the Hours After featuring Klaudia Bartos, Seonaid Burnie, Carrie Dingwall, Bebe James, Al Joice, Peter Pinckney, Louann Sidon, Olivia Isabel Smith and Theresa Waugh @ the BOXed Quarter, Friday 5th November (Until November 10th)

An excited crowd gathered for In The Hours After… (Photo credit: Theresa Waugh)
(Photo credit: Klaudia Bartos)
(Photo credit: Theresa Waugh)
Featured artists Louann Sidon, Klaudia Bartos, Bebe James, Olivia Isabel Smith, Theresa Waugh and Seonaid Burnie got the chance to celebrate (Photo credit: Findlay Currie)
Olivia Isabel Smith’s mixed media works explore the arrangement, organisation and collection of objects… (Photo credit: Olivia Isabel Smith)
A selection of Seonaid Burnie’s evocative works from In the Hours After… (Photo credit: Seonaid Burnie)
Theresa Waugh’s textile works explore texture, form, pattern and colour (Photo credit: Theresa Waugh)
Bebe James’ beautifully presented jewellery pieces added to the show’s diversity… (Photo credit: Bebe James)
Klaudia Bartos’ haunting portrait works from In the Hours After (Photo credit: Klaudia Bartos)

Are you part of a show coming up? Email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz to let us know. Showtime will cover exhibitions and events from the local scene…

 

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And that was… January 2019

Well, January flew by, right? We thought that since life is so hectic, and the worlds of urban art are often so fleeting and ephemeral, it would be helpful to recap each month with a kind of top five list, you know, like in the Nick Hornby book High Fidelity (or the John Cusack movie adaptation, where Jack Black steals the show, take your pick), or a truncated Letterman Top Ten. We will list five things that we loved during the previous month – from new works, big or small, to events and exhibitions, or even just general talking points. And of course, we would love to hear what you think, so jump in and comment, or send us a suggestion for our upcoming lists…

So, without further delay, here, in no particular order, is the inaugural ‘And that was…’ list for January 2019 (drum roll please…):

  1. Face Value @ Fiksate Gallery

Face Value Promotional Poster

The team at Fiksate followed up the Jacob Yikes exhibition, Bad Company,  with another impressive showing – the second incarnation of the Face Value: an exploration of portraiture, figuration, faces and characters through the lens of urban art. The show featured a range of talent, from emerging and established locals, to big names from wider Aotearoa and further abroad, such as Anthony Lister, Elliot O’Donnell (AskewOne) and Tom Gerrard (Aeon). Highlights included O’Donnell’s monochromatic apparition Chloe (Beta), the collective strength found in the juxtaposition of local artist Meep (Kophie Hulsbosch)’s bold self-portrait and the works of Auckland’s Erica Pearce, the elegant chaos of Lister’s Ballet Dancer, and Koe One’s typography-laced black and white portrait of urban youth.

  1. The Giant Cans get a makeover…
The Giant Cans got a make-over with new work by (L-R) Wongi 'Freak' Wilson, Fluro (Holly Ross) and Ikarus.
The Giant Cans got a make-over with new work by (L-R) Wongi ‘Freak’ Wilson, Fluro (Holly Ross) and Ikarus.

While five cans remain a constant open platform, the three cans that stand aside are designated as semi-permanent. Initially painted by Wongi ‘Freak’ Wilson, Ikarus and Jacob Yikes, in mid-January, the three metal sentinels were re-painted by Ikarus, Wongi and Fluro (Holly Ross), giving them some fresh evening wear for 2019. With Ikarus’ slick letterforms, Fluro’s elegant typography, and Wilson’s photorealism (with some nostalgic cartoon fun thrown in as well), the cans represent a variety of approaches and styles.

  1. Macadam Monkey chills in North Beach
Macadam Monkey's North Beach and Chill wall, Marine Parade, North Beach.
Macadam Monkey’s North Beach and Chill wall, Marine Parade, North Beach.

French artist Macadam Monkey spent several weeks in the city in late December and January, and he made the most of his time here. Hitting a few spots with his almost Art Deco-styled, elegant females as well as more traditional lettering, our favourite was probably his appropriately titled ‘North Beach and Chill’ wall beachside in North New Brighton. The refined (and recurring) colour palette of black \, grey, yellow and white added to the chilled vibe and the work itself seems to have the potential to be something of a small-scale landmark for the area (although time will tell of course…).

  1. Juse1, VRod and Torch in New Brighton
Juse1's B-Boy chilling in New Brighton.
Juse1’s B-Boy chilling in New Brighton.

It was something of a meeting of generations and locations when Wellington legend Juse1 visited Christchurch. He spent time painting with local writers VRod (who hails from Auckland but is based in Christchurch) and Torch, and while the Hereford Street spot was a blink and you’ll miss it deal (in fact there have been a number of pieces there that could have made this list, shout out to Tepid, Lurq, Ikarus, Dove and more), their sprawling production in New Brighton has shown more legs. The pieces add to a vibrant setting, and Juse’s iconic B-Boy character adds a perfect nod to hip hop culture, as if it is straight off a New York subway train circa 1982, albeit still fresh to death…

  1. Jonny Waters, Dizney Dreamz @ Anchorage
Jonathan Waters, Goofy, from Dizney Dreamz, mixed media on plywood cut-out, 2018

Dunedin-based artist Jonny Waters goes by a few names, but one thing is always consistent: his playful, twisted aesthetic, which was on full display in Dizney Dreamz at The Anchorage on Walker Street. Presented by Kin Art, the show featured a new series of Waters’ cut-out characters, this time iconic (and several overlooked) players from the world of Disney cartoons (his previous works have taken on Looney Tunes, Rugrats, Sonic the Hedgehog and The Simpsons). While the silhouettes are familiar and intend to invoke a feeling of nostalgia, the details take the viewer on an unexpected trip; eyes where they shouldn’t be, limbs and heads protruding from fresh wounds. All these features are accompanied by a fine technical detail, with layered sections, perfectly imperfect lines and a use of various media.

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