FUTURE: 4 X 3 | Amanda Gruenwald | Eemyun Kang | Brendon Leung | Chris Corson-Scott
With the move to our new gallery space in a new year and new decade that also marks forty years’ working in the arts for owner Trish Clark, as she looks towards the future it is appropriate to inaugurate the new space by looking to young artists charged with delivering that future. Opening Sunday 1 March, FUTURE 4 X 3 presents four different practices by four committed artists, united in their seriousness of intent for art to make a compelling contribution to contemporary life, in all its complexity: one midway through his 3rd decade and the other three in their 30’s, the future belongs to their generation and beyond.
Amanda Gruenwald has developed an ambitious painting practice that speaks to the heart of the medium since graduating from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 2012. Awarded a painting Prize and Grant in her final year of study, Gruenwald is quickly distinguishing herself as a thoughtful and formidable emerging artist, included in GBAG/LLC’s three-person Surface Affect in 2017. Working at scale with colour and form, Gruenwald’s distinctive shapes collide, bleed and fray into one another. Cognisant of the great American colour field painters, Gruenwald subtly subverts their dictates and skirts around their rules, disrupting the flatness of the painting’s plane with over-painting, sometimes heavily gestural, and paint erasure, that together mediate a balance between deliberation and intuition. Relying equally upon deconstruction and construction, there is an oscillation between thickness and thinness, energy and calm that ebbs and flows over Gruenwald’s surfaces, according to the interior logic emergent in each painting. Gruenwald is alert to our image-saturated digital and physical landscape, referencing the use of designers’ colour profiles and topographers’ physical profiles.
Ancient and contemporary co-exist readily in Eemyun Kang’s life and painting practice, reflecting her initial traditional training in Korea that underpinned her further studies at London’s Slade School of Fine Art, post graduate studies at the Royal Academy of Arts where she was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal (2009), then her doctoral degree at the University of East London (2012). Now based in Milan, she spent almost her entire artistic career in the cross-cultural urban environment of London, and admits to retaining a sense of dislocation, accepting this as a defining element in her work. Her underlying interest in hybridity stems from this experience, her fictional hybrid worlds existing in the constant interplay between subject and object, reality and subconscious, known and unknown. Her gestural and energetic brushstrokes create mysterious but suggestive works and her constantly evolving subjects are never quite as they seem.
Committed to exploring and embracing existential questions, Chris Corson-Scott’s photographic practice reminds us of our collective dependence upon and necessary care of the natural world, calling our attention to the realities of past and present and capturing their poignant decay. Over several months in 2019, Corson-Scott visited Ihumātao, a highly contested piece of land in Tāmaki Makaurau where Māori historically settled, farmed and thrived. Transacted to Fletcher Building and designated for 480 houses in the Puketāpapa block to address the city’s housing shortage, a land occupation by SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) met the developers. Corson-Scott’s repeated visits to foster trust and capture personal stories resulted in an authentic representation of the land occupation, countering a media narrative of protest caricatures and intimidation. Presented here are eleven from the series of captivatingly honest portraits of those who answered the call to stand with ‘the protectors’ of the significant site, depicting a diverse and compassionate group whose faces show strength, conviction, softness, pain and a united desire for a peaceful Aotearoa New Zealand.
Born in Auckland in 1994, of Chinese/Malaysian background and raised in a Chinese/Malaysian household where both parents’ livelihoods were in cooking, Brendon Leung embraces this cultural hybridity, amplified by living in a New Zealand-inflected western society. He grasps the cultural legacies of Eastern aesthetics, lifestyle and philosophies that influence his art and their connections with his own creative process, appearing to effortlessly and unselfconsciously channel ancient approaches and knowledge into his contemporary exploration of the mediums of painting. Eastern philosophical ideas readily embrace correlations with abstraction, the artist seeking to reference nature, space and the human condition. While the paintings appear pared back, they might be composed of hundreds of layers, utilising found materials as their support and unconventional materials in their making, including tea and coffee. Leung concentrates on ideas of imperfection and impermanence, drawing out the atmospheric qualities of his materials to deliver potently affecting contemplative paintings. He says, ‘I’ve come to understand my practice is a literal immersion in the process of impermanence, creating paintings is like chanting a mantra, to tune myself in to what is important and meaningful. Having influences from both east and west has given me insight into something more profound, something that connects us all, that is our humanity.’