a colour has many faces – 30 May-30 June, 2023
a colour has many faces
Salome Tanuvasa, Janna Van Hasselt, Poppy Lekner, Lily Custance, Polly Gilroy
Curated by Polly Gilroy
Artists use colour to make you feel or see something, however a single colour can be translated in many ways. There is an undeniable instability to colour. Although, on a surface level hues appear stable, as relationships form between colours and their environment we find they endlessly transform. They are as variable as light.
A colour has many faces brings together five female artists from across Aotearoa with diverse artistic practices. Colour plays a pivotal role within each artist’s work and is explored through their unique visual language, dissecting the sensorial potential of surface and shape through bold abstraction.
Salome Tanuvasa’s practice traverses multiple disciplines and a variety of surfaces questioning how we build meaning and feeling through colour, line, and form. Tanuvasa’s intuitive mark-making is displayed through drawing, painting, cutting and hand-stitching. Each medium grounding itself with a strong sense of tactility and touch. In these paintings, her vivid palette features certain shapes and motifs that recur across her art practice; these gestures become a language that translates her surroundings.
Like Tanuvasa, Janna van Hasselt brings tactile exuberance and her porcelain forms bustle with action as the glossy loops build a visual vocabulary. Van Hasselt is invested in her materiality, perfectly displaying the nature of clay as a highly fluidic and malleable material. This enables her to create works that seemingly have a life of their own. Toppled, buckled and tangled forms of controlled chaos are littered with textured smears of glaze and fired ceramic strokes. Defying perfection whilst being carefully orchestrated, her luscious structures work with an oscillating rhythm to push against the expected confines of ceramics.
Janna van Hasselts’s two tone works Tussle, Barter and Loll entangle knots, tubes and folds with the contrasting colours wrinkling and wrestling into each other, where one colour is slowly enveloped by the other.
Exploring materiality in a different realm, Polly Gilroy embraces the point of transition between sculpture and painting, binding the two through multi-faceted structures. Gilroy’s silk stretched works present carefully considered colour pairings within her complex cross bar compositions. Hues are manipulated through opacity shifts and shade transitions. Demarcating space, her works often bring the support structures into the formal composition and encourages viewers to look through and beyond.
Gilroy’s works were made with an element of response to the other exhibiting artists. Mimicking shape, line and colour, a conversation is opened up with Lily Custance and Janna van Hasselt’s pieces. Her large green work Oscillation considers the mirroring found in Custance’s works and explores the asymmetrical, reflective skews that occur with perspective change, whilst also imitating colour gradients to create an illusion of depth.
We see an importance placed on colour and light working together in Gilroy’s and Custance’s work.
Inspired by geometric abstraction, minimalism and the California light and space movement, Lily Custance creates three-dimensional installations that are conditioned by their surroundings. Her works open a dialogue between light and space, engaging both the interior of the gallery and the external world passing by outside. Her origami-like folded works create a line of vision that intersect and interrupt light, exploring the sensory phenomena of natural light as well as the properties of artificial light.
Custance’s two free-standing works act as portals bringing light into the space and echoing surrounding colours. Her corner works Double and Rose layer reflections upon each other thereby creating composition both within and without the confines of the acrylic. The colours within are harnessed from incidental light and creeping shadow. Mirrored planes spill, reflect and cast forth light while also creating their own shadows. They are both substantial and ethereal.
Poppy Lekner uses camera-less photography to investigate the relationships between light, colour, time, photographic surface and object through abstract experimentation. Lekners exposures use repetition to create lines that cut and swerve, punch and blur. These compositions are layered with a hand coloured CMYKpalette, in effect leaving a painterly finish to the works.
With the avant-garde re-emergence of photograms in the 1920’s, we saw artists such as Len Lye exploring the camera-less method as a way of drawing with light. The result being layered, ghostly and dreamlike images with the distorted fleeting impression which leave the viewer guessing what was once there. Lekner explores the history of photography as a tactile and hand-held medium, often presenting photographs of miniature scale. These ‘memento’ size works offer an intimate viewing, encouraging the viewer to consider the physical process of making.
Salome Tanuvasa is an Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau based artist of Tongan and Sāmoan heritage. She holds a BFA (Honours) and an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland. Tanuvasa has been exhibiting since 2012 with recent exhibitions at Page Galleries, Wellington, Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland, Southern Stars, London, Murray Art Museum, Albury NSW, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery New Plymouth and more. Her work is part of the permanent collection of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and in 2018 she won the Creative Award from the China Academy of Art, Huangzhou, China.
Janna van Hasselt is an Ōtautahi Christchurch-based artist who has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, U.S.A. She has had artist residencies in London, U.K, the Netherlands, Belgium and Pennsylvania, U.S.A and has exhibited throughout New Zealand, notably in the SCAPE Biennale, Christchurch, 2016, major solo exhibition at Ashburton Art Gallery Chromasill (2021), which was the result of her winning the 2020 Zonta Ashburton Female Art Award and most recently her immersive installation Chromaflage at The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, 2022.
Otautahi Christchurch-based artist Polly Gilroy holds a BFA with first class Honours from Massey University, Wellington in 2017. Since graduating she has had 3 solo exhibitions at PG Gallery192 and has also exhibited with Foenander Galleries in Auckland. She was a finalist in the Zonta Female Art Awards, Ashburton Art Gallery in both 2020 and 2021.
Poppy Lekner is a Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) based artist of Czech and American descent. She holds a BFA (Honours) COCA College of Creative Arts, Massey University.
Lekner has exhibited in London, New York, Barcelona and the Netherlands and won New Zealand’s contemporary Drawing Prize in 2020.
Since completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at, Toi Rauwhārangi, Massey University Wellington in 2019 Pōneke Wellington based Lily Custance has shown her work throughout the North Island and most recently presented her Debut solo exhibition Two Fold at Twenty Six, Wellington