Figure Skating brings together a dynamic selection of artists whose painting practices all relate to or circumnavigate the human form, playing upon conventions of portraiture and figuration and their accompanying narratives and histories.
Hiria Anderson (Rereahu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Apakura) holds an MFA with First Class Honours from Whitecliffe College of Art and Design. Through her practice Anderson surveys her immediate surroundings and those individuals and relationships within her community of Ōtorohanga. The artist captures in detail the intimacy, incongruity, and poeticism of the everyday and with it the interplay between tikanga Māori and contemporary municipal life. While her works regularly convey bustling activity, they are equally occupied by a sense of absence; painstakingly depicting figures from obscure viewpoints, vacant spaces, or the minutiae of discarded objects.
Laura Williams has received several awards and residencies since firmly establishing her practice ten years ago. With a major in Sociology, and a career as a union organiser, Williams is somewhat preoccupied with the particulars of human interactions. There is a joyful irreverence and sharp humor to these works. Williams’ paintings are peppered with references to religion, art history, pornography, design, and social theory. Often locating her figures within bucolic landscapes or highly charged domestic interiors bursting with colour and pattern, they appear surrounded by the detritus of daily life, frequently in various states of undress.
Robbie Motion studied Art History and Film and Media at the University of Otago. His painting practice began through creating artwork for album covers and posters for local Dunedin bands. Unsurprisingly, his paintings possess a languid, distorted quality that is at once melodic and unsettling. There is a certain vulnerability to these figures; with limbs and faces distorted, obliterated, and overlapping they are at once absurd and graceful. Motion presents us with the abstracted parts of a face, a body, and these outward physical contortions seem to articulate internalised mental or emotional preoccupations.
Star Gossage (Ngāti Wai / Ngāti Ruanui) lives on a headland above Pākiri beach, north east of Auckland. Nestled between ocean and river, the artist’s whare is located on ancestral land; a landscape that Gossage returns to again and again as both site and subject off her work. Her ethereal portraits of wahine appear as tūpuna or ancestors, their individual identities unspecified. Connected to the whenua, whānau, and wairua of this place, these figures are at once grounded and otherworldly. These wāhine emerge out of the landscape, their forms rendered from a mix of local clay, with chalk pastels, conte, and oil.
Figure Skating is presented as part of Face to Face: Portrait Festival, a local festival timed to coincide with the launch of The Kiingi Tūheitia Portraiture Award at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, an inaugural award for emerging Māori artists. The festival will run across more than a dozen dealer and public art galleries in the Wellington region.
We invited Hana Pera Aoake to write something in response to the exhibition. You can read Hana's text via the link below: