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Wallace Gallery Morrinsville April 2018 Newsletter
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ARTCHAT April 2018
The Wallace Gallery Morrinsville is proud to present: Artchat April ...

New resident artist at the Wallace Gallery Morrinsville

New resident artist at the Wallace Gallery Morrinsville

The Wallace Gallery Morrinsville is proud to present:

There was a moment, maybe six weeks or so, when no one knew how to make a painting is a solo exhibition at Wallace Gallery Morrinsville, featuring new artwork by Yonel Watene, opening Saturday April 7, 11AM - 1PM, to May 1 2018.

Watene is the inaugural National Artist-In-Residence at the Wallace Gallery Morrinsville (through March to late April 2018) and will present ideas and work created during his residency.

The artist will transform part of the gallery into his temporary studio, where he will create artwork throughout the exhibitions duration. The public is openly invited to engage with the artist during these open studio sessions.

There was a moment … will be segmented in two, across the Main Gallery and Ruma Hapori, with each space focusing on different aspects of the exhibitions narrative. The Main Gallery will focus on oil painting traditions and abstracted figuration. Here he’ll present a series of new figurative work, portraits of his rabbit Judy, and a range of landscape painting. In stark contrast to the oil painting presentation, the Ruma Hapori will present contemporary sculpture and installation. Here he’ll present art as an alternative to existing architectural/infrastructural models, where alternative designs for buildings, cities and town plans are presented as alternative options to their existing counterparts. These separate discussions ultimately lead back to the exhibitions true theme; knowledge, power and their roles in society.

Wallace Gallery Morrinsville and the artist are pleased to announce the inclusion of Olga Krause, who will present her performance work, Visitor, at the exhibitions opening (scheduled for midday).

Watene will present oil paintings in the Main Gallery, curated with emphasis on traditional exhibition design, where he'll homage Modernist traditions founded in the early 20th century (mainly heralded by Matisse and Picasso). These works explore iconic traits in Modernist painting, namely figurative segmentation and abstraction, from a contemporary point of view. Watene's oil paintings capture domestic subjects, mainly his rabbit Judy and partner Roberta Francis (Director of The Lucy Foundation Charity). Figuration and painting traditions are fundamental to this segment of the exhibition, as is oil paint and oil painting. Watene first encountered oil paint as a high school student studying the Modernist greats. The complexities of painting in oil, and the rich history of oil painting (dating back to the 15th century) has motivated the artists investigation into the medium for over a decade. This aspect of the exhibition homages oil paintings rich history, a history that has greatly influenced the artist. This is his first presentation solely dedicated to oil painting, and is the first presentation that has focused solely on one media since 2015. Watene recently held an oil painting workshop for Spark Festival, Wintec, where he educated Wintec students on oil painting theory and practice.

In stark contrast to the Main Gallery display, Watene will present contemporary sculpture, paintings and installation in the Ruma Hapori. Here he'll explore anti-bourgeois traditions pioneered by our Dadaist forebears. The central work for this segment of the exhibition will be Zug Island and Fight Island, a playful architectural alternative to two existing islands on the Detroit River (on either side of the USA-Canada border). This segment of the exhibition centres around Watene’s architecture inspired 3D oeuvre, where he presents alternative infrastructural proposals for the audience to consider. Despite the playful nature of these propositions, these artworks are very serious infrastructural propositions that carefully consider its surrounding ecosystem (and the wellbeing of these ecosystems). This train of thought promotes collaborative discussion around social infrastructure, where everyone has a say. The objective is to reach a state of harmony on all fronts (social, political, economical, racial etc.) through imagining alternative realities for existing systems and structures.

Despite the historical tone of the exhibitions context, or the topical nature of either room, the real objective is to discuss knowledge as something that is present or absent. This is the exhibitions main consideration, and both segments of the exhibition closely consider this concept. The artists see’s his existing knowledge-bank as a central base for his practice (i.e. a starting point) - once he ventures out into the practical world of art (as he has done with this show), there is still much he does not know. This status, to know or not to know, can be measured in abundance i.e. that he or she is knowledgeable, or scarcity i.e. that he or she lacks knowledge. The idea is that the latter can be an advantageous position. This is the main purpose of this exhibition concept, which is further explained below.

Yonel Watene was born 1989 in Auckland, New Zealand, of Māori (Ngati Maru (Hauraki)) and Greek descent. He is currently based in Hamilton, New Zealand. He studied fine arts, and later economics, at Auckland University of Technology, graduating in 2010. He Founded SAVOIE de LACY, a small gallery and studio based in Ravensbourne, Dunedin, which opened March 2016. SAVOIE de LACY closed in July 2017 and now operates as a curatorial project under the name SAVOY GERACOPOL, which debuted at Casa Lu, Mexico City, in 2017. Watene works across a range of mediums and is primarily known for his paintings. He also works in photography, sculpture and installation. Prior to 2016 his practice was restricted to painting (usually one series at a time). Since 2016, by working in a variety of new media, Watene has created a diverse oeuvre that, while being inherently complex, is strategically invested in modern cultures, art historic traditions and autobiographic material, all of which are important to the artist. This diversified creative range enables him to discuss a variety of topics close to him, which include: domesticity, companionship and whakapapa (relative to painting); architecture and town planning, which enables him to talk about scarcity of space, flawed property markets, curious urban developments and his own affiliation with certain locations (relative to sculpture); and alternatives to landscape art in the contemporary world (relative to photography).

Recent exhibitions include: Watene Ah Um, Firstdraft, Sydney, Australia [forthcoming August 2018] (solo); For a moment, maybe six weeks or so, no one knew how to make a painting 2, play_station, Wellington, New Zealand, with Justin Jade Morgan and Rachel Peary [forthcoming June 2018] (3-person show); ; The Spirit, PAULNACHE, Gisborne, New Zealand (solo), 2017; rugby ball, Casa Lu, Mexico City, Mexico (solo), 2017; Anything Could Happen, Yu Gallery, Yu Yuan Garden, Shanghai, China (group), 2017; and Mackie Boy, SAVOIE de LACY, at Dunedin Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand, accompanied by The Sun, Moon and Stars (publication) (solo), 2017. He recently completed an artist residency at Casa Lu, Mexico City 2017, and will be the inaugural National artist resident at Wallace Gallery Morrinsville in March 2018.

Yonel Watene is represented by PAULNACHE Gallery -

There was a moment, maybe six weeks or so, when no one knew how to make a painting is a continuous exhibition concept taken from one gallery to the next, and in the process it expands, detracts and waivers from it’s intended path. Created by Yonel Watene and first exhibited at Wallace Gallery Morrinsville, as the exhibition continues from one gallery to the next, new artists will enter the foray, adding to the discussion and making it their own. This project’s objective and direction is very liberal - we know the reasons for it’s inception, but we do not know it’s fate. The concept has two critical components, The Spirit (named after his first solo exhibition at PAULNACHE Gallery December 2017) and The Game (named after the rapper). The Spirit is the concepts underlying philosophical goals, which rarely (or very slowly) changes. The Game is the overlaying discussion, which is very topical and fluid - this will change from show to show. The Game may or may not be directly referenced, and is usually explained in the exhibition press release. The Spirit text follows below.

The Spirit
The exhibition title is a revised quotation by an unknown person, paraphrased by New York based artist Chris Martin, while in conversation with joe Bradley, another New York based artist, during a conversational interview[1] leading up to their 2-man show at Mitchell-Innes and Nash Gallery in New York. This quotation refers to the early moments of Abstract Expressionism at a time when the pioneers of Ab Ex were inventing their signature style/s, and it indicates during this period no one new what they were doing i.e. they did not know how to do a classic Ab Ex painting.

Whether this period existed or not is irrelevant to the fact that this state of ignorance can be liberating and innocent - almost more so than positions of higher knowledge, which can often come with greater restrictions and moral obligations. This show isn’t so much about Chris Martin and Joe Bradley, or even Ab Ex - it’s about this state of not knowing, but in a good way, and trying to reach this state through unlearning the many things we ‘know’. In a sense, this show challenges the classical contemporary exhibition founded in knowledge or knowing, which is almost a prerequisite of any and all contemporary art exhibitions e.g. we need to know what we are doing, we need to know about the subject, we need to know about current events, we need qualifications and experience that indicate we know about contemporary art etc. This exhibition is a sincere declaration stating that Yonel Watene does not know what he is doing sometimes, and that this position is not just OK, it’s actually preferable for art making and true experimentation. Yonel Watene likes to refer to this position as “the antithesis of classical arts and crafts,” which is to not do what we are taught in school.

There was a moment, maybe six weeks or so, when no one knew how to make a painting 1 is the first exhibition in an ongoing series of exhibitions that borrow from Chris Martin and Joe Bradleys conversation. The project is continuous, rather than singular, mainly due to the difficulty involved with reaching a pure of state of ‘not knowing’. The first show, just like the second and third show and so on, isn’t necessarily about perfecting the concept or execution, or even reaching this state of ‘not knowing’ or getting it right - it’s about practice and processes, if it’s about anything at all. The longevity of the project also allows for natural evolution and growth, which will gradually occur when Watene addresses different content within the discussion, or perhaps when he enters the discussion himself. It’s very likely that he will discard the conversation entirely, maybe opting to create a newer one from scratch. The moral of the story is that nothing is certain, especially this projects future.

As an afterthought, it’s prudent to note that, despite this concepts tendency to put knowledge and ignorance against each other, it isn’t an idealistic battle between supreme alternatives and methodologies - the state of not knowing isn’t better than knowing and vice versa, this show isn’t about measuring swords - all it is is an interesting mindset we can use to achieve new art, just like many of our forebears. That is all.

[1] published in The Journal Fall 2009.

Date Added: Wednesday, 4th April 2018