New Vincent Ward exhibition

He may be one of our most celebrated filmmakers but Vincent Ward is also an accomplished fine artist, as an exhibition opening next month in New Plymouth will amply demonstrate.

Ward, whose film’s like Vigil and River Queen have become defining works in New Zealand’s film canon, will have a series of still images on display at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery opening in December.

The exhibition, entitled ‘Breath – the fleeting intensity of life’, marks the first time Ward’s images have been surveyed in the context of an art museum, mixing photography, painting and digital imaging.

The displayed works are concerned with themes of metamorphosis, light, darkness and immersive experience conveyed through otherworldly landscapes and transcendent states.

“I am working to find an alchemical marriage somewhere between the worlds of motion, film and painting,” says Ward.

The exhibition will run from December 10, 2011 to February 26, 2012 at the gallery on the corner of Queen and King Street; admission is free.

Curated by Rhana Devenport, the exhibition will also be accompanied by a publication of the works with a commissioned essay by writer and playwright Louis Nowra.

Check the Govett-Brewster website for further details.

Image: Embryo 2011 © Vincent Ward

An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar exhibition

What does a great white shark, a sample of HIV culture and a Braille edition of Playboy have in common? They are all little hidden secrets of American culture as seen through the lens of New York-based artist Taryn Simon.

The photographer’s new exhibition, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar 2005/2007, is coming to New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery from December 18 to February 6, 2011.

Simon’s work, some 40 images shot with a large-format view camera, seeks to probe beneath the skin of America, exploring the secrets and lies society tells itself every day.

Inspired by the rumours of hidden weapons of mass destruction that falsely lead the country to war against Iraq, the photographer set out to document America’s own cache of secrets hidden in plain sight.

The result is a complex culture represented through striking images like those of a nuclear-waste storage facility, a death row exercise yard and a white tiger held in captivity.

Gallery director Rhana Devonport says the exhibition provides “unimagined insights” into the subtle makeup of everyday life.

“Although the American context is the model, the questions she raises through her intensely-researched project can be transferred to multiple national and institutional contexts. The project raises important lines of thinking about visible and invisible systems of control.”

The probing and provocative subject matter will come as no surprise to those familiar with Simon’s past work, including a study of wrongful convictions based on photographic evidence, titled The Innocents.

The Govett-Brewster gallery is the only venue in the North Island to be showing the exhibition on its tour by the Brisbane Institute of Modern Art, so you have a good three months to make your way to the New Plymouth area and check it out.

Govett-Brewster Turns 40

New Plymouth contemporary art institution and home of some of New Zealand’s best photography, Govett-Brewster Gallery, turns forty this year and plans to celebrate with a multi-media street party.

On March 27, a host of local artists will present new works specially tailored for the gallery’s anniversary.

A large-scale projection and accompanying soundscape will be projected onto the new crisp white exterior of the gallery by visual and installation artist Tim Gruchy, transforming the building into a screen. There will also be musical performances by The Trons — a self-playing robot band created by musician and mechanical engineer Greg Locke — and veteran visual and aural electronic dance duo, Pitch Black.

Renowned New Zealand artist John Reynolds has been working closely with the Govett-Brewster in preparation for the event and will exhibit NOMADOLOGY [Loitering With Intent] between 27 March and 13 June 2010, featuring major new works produced especially for the anniversary and the unique spaces of the Gallery.

“Although geographically provincial, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has positioned itself at the epicentre of contemporary art in New Zealand for the past four decades,” said Govett-Brewster Director Rhianna Devenport. “The street party is also a fitting commemoration for the Gallery’s achievements to date and a great opportunity to thank the community of New Plymouth for its support and faith over the years.”

During the gallery’s fortieth year, the Govett-Brewster also plans to launch a publication detailing its history and impact, along with a new project which sees its sizable collection become available online.