We are very grateful here at 30 Upstairs to be immersed in a stream of spectacular works acquired by Mal. Like most of our visitors we try our best to attend local shows, talks and creative events, but there are limits to what art we are exposed to in Wellington and New Zealand. The office has become a place where, as staff and friends of the gallery, we are able to see an up to date diary of a few of the most forward thinking, challenging and experimental exhibitions taking place outside of our country too. The works are a continual source of inspiration and debate (in equal amounts) as we expand our minds and broaden our contemporary art knowledge.
The kneeling woman has raised not just eyebrows but interesting questions in relation to a painting that sits between abstraction and the figurative. Australian artist Karen Black recently had an exhibition Piece of Wood at Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney. Sullivan+Strumpf are passionately paving the way for artists who are pushing their practice and delivering work, messages and content that activates an audience. In that same breath it is no surprise that Black’s depictions of publicised tragedies are so absorbing.
Black’s generous and gestural application of paint intersects the space between the artist and the tragedy it responds to. In parts the paint repels, cracks, drips and bleeds into figures and landscape. The artist links global problems of our time to the sadness and suffering of events around us and in turn our own individual experience of that is questioned. Black uses history, mythology and symbolism to express tension and multi-layered stories, while her personalisation of these events is a reminder that suffering does not only belong to those we see in the media but also to the private non-publicised parts of life.
Words by Jade Townsend