While Sam Mitchell and Gavin Hurley have frequently shown together, a collaborative exhibition is a much rarer event and we are delighted to present their first collaborative exhibition in Wellington in a decade. Here they are curators, practitioners and friends sharing their common interest in portraiture to have fun with figures loosely linked by history, geography and popular culture.
Taking as their starting point the naming and history of Wellington their works create free range associations that link the historical and the contemporary - spanning from the Duke of Wellington, who led British troops to defeat the French Napoleon in the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, through to the pop music of their childhood and the hit Abba song Waterloo - the lyrics of which provide the title for the exhibition.
Artists such as Gilbert and George or Jake and Dinos Chapman work in long term collaborations in which the identity of the individual artist is subsumed to the pair; Sam and Gavin come together on a project basis that preserves the identity of each individual. As in all collaborations trust and respect are the foundations and here works by each artist sit alongside two collaboratively painted works in which the mark making of each is clearly but harmoniously discernible.
What both artists also share is an interest in portraiture that goes beyond concerns with likeness. For them portraiture is a vehicle to disrupt expectations, to collage contradictions, convey inner realities, and, particularly with Gavin, evoke particular cultural and gendered era and ethos. All the works in the exhibition are on canvas or linen and this marks a departure for Sam from her signature use of reverse painting on perspex.
Sam and Gavin are both graduates of the Elam School of Fine Arts at Auckland University. They have exhibited widely nationally and internationally and have their work in an extensive range of private and public collections.
Press release courtesy Bartley + Company Art.