SEFTON RANI – [Crossroads] – 12 Sept-6 Oct, 2023
Sefton Rani sees himself as a sculptural painter. His work is primarily created with solidified paint skins which he uses to investigate the materiality of paint and how far it can be pushed. The paint skins, which are formed on glass, plastic or objects, once dry, are peeled off and enhanced with various materials and methods. He often uses text, found objects, combustion and natural pigments such as pounamu (greenstone) dust, charcoal or rust. This process enables him to ‘paint time’ and allow the historical journey of creation to enhance each piece.
In his youth he worked for a time in a paint factory. There he observed build-ups of paint and detritus – a key reason for using this unusual material and methodology. He encourages the apparent aging of his work surfaces, reflecting the influence of wabi sabi, the Japanese aesthetic described as “beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.”
Of Cook Island heritage, his work enables him to explore his “Pacificness”. He refers to completed works as “urban tapa” which is influenced by the marks and forms of traditional tapa, carving, tattoo and tivaevae. Informed by these narratives and imageries he uses modern materials and motifs to reflect and share his own ideologies, identity and imagination.
Sefton Rani’s work is multi-layered and his own experience of life has inevitably left its mark. He and his wife recently lost their home and his studio when Cyclone Gabrielle struck Piha. These paintings are coloured by the shock and loss that accompanies a natural disaster, plus the difficult process of repairing and rebuilding (a grinding reality that we in Christchurch know only too well.) Through this disaster Rani has also come to reflect further upon losses suffered by Pacific peoples during the colonial period. Yet somehow, despite the darkness of many of the works in this show, [Crossroads] leaps with dynamism. The blacks shine with reflected vitality and spark with light, the whites feel clean and pure, the red shows a wound that will heal.
ARTIST TALK: Thurs 14 Sept, 12noon
Article by Claire Chamberlain: ‘Industrial Camouflage’, Takahē magazine T108