press release

City Gallery Wellington is pleased to present 2 x 2 Contemporary Projects, a series of two exhibitions, each showcasing two artists. City Gallery Wellington artists’ projects aim to show art and artists at the forefront of contemporary practice, providing a focused solo exhibition opportunity for artists whose work is fresh, innovative, and rich in ideas.

The second 2 x 2 Contemporary Projects exhibitions feature multi-media artist Lonnie Hutchinson and video artist Sriwhana Spong. The first projects introduce photographer Edith Amituanai and painter Kelcy Taratoa. Whilst these are four distinct exhibitions, they share some common concerns and show that issues of identity, at both a personal and broader cultural level, have on-going currency for artists working in a wide range of media. Lonnie Hutchinson and Sriwhana Spong take us into a world of ritual and mythology where ideas are suggested through symbol and metaphor; where culture infuses form to create a rich and seductively elusive hybrid flavour.

Hutchinson presents drawings alongside sculptural works. With a beautiful, loose, flowing, confident brushstroke, she has painted intimate large-scale drawings of women directly onto the gallery walls. At one level, the drawings are simply about the artist’s delight in process and paint and colour—the colour black. A blackness that calls out beyond the medium: opposite the drawings stand cut black acrylic shields, each incised with Hutchinson’s distinctive brand of iconography loosely drawn from traditional Maori and Samoan forms, (familiar to many from her signature building paper cut-outs) suggesting a symbolic protection.

Sriwhana Spong also addresses and explores links between physical and spiritual worlds, the known and the unknown and the differing cultural attitudes of east and west toward these states. Spong’s work mixes images and references through a process she describes as ‘borrowing, stealing and adapting’, placing her Balinese heritage (with which she had little contact while growing up in New Zealand) alongside other areas of ‘exotic’ and uncertain terrain—from space travel to horror movies. The title of the installation Twin Oak Drive is taken from a walkway in Cornwall Park in Auckland. Its hybridity is overt with references to David Lynch’s cult tv series Twin Peaks and the Balinese tradition of making offerings to the gods with the offerings constructed from everyday found objects: food, cigarettes, even shopping bags. The viewer of Spong’s DVDs travels with her into a world where all is not as it seems, where the seemingly tangible cannot quite be grasped and the dark is lighter and more amusing than may have been expected.

Lonnie Hutchinson (Ngai Tahu/Samoa) has been exhibiting regularly in New Zealand and internationally since the late 1990s. She was included in Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand and recent international group exhibitions include the 4th Noumea Biennial in New Caledonia (2000), L’Art Urbain du Pacifique (Urban Art from the Pacific) at Castle of Saint-Aurent, Limousin, France (2005) and Pasifika Styles 2006, at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, England.

Sriwhana Spong’s video and installation work has been seen in group exhibitions around New Zealand, Australia and Germany since she graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University in 2001; most recently as part of Cultural Futures, St. Paul St., Auckland (2005); Playing Favourites at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington (2005), and Break Shift, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2004). She has had four solo exhibitions in Auckland and in 2005 won the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award.

2 x 2 Contemporary Projects
Lonnie Hutchinson - Parallel Seductions
Sriwhana Spong - Twin Oak Drive