In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...
Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...
China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...
Son of Mang is a simple gesture - Mark Braunias boldly placing new work alongside a triptych of charcoal drawings from 1998, and three taut yet utterly satisfying Tooth Head paintings, dated 2015 - 18.
"This exhibition brings together a body of work that connects to an artistic practice twenty years in the making. It pivots around a large 10-panel charcoal work on paper, Mang (1997), held in the Christchurch Art Gallery collection since 2002.
The central core of these works is the artist's long-term investigation into a hybrid of biological shapes and comic figuration, seen through the lens of modernist abstraction. The strict formalism of pictorial space (emphasized by the push and pull of figure/ground) collides with the playful absurdity of the 'Goofy' shapes staring back at the viewer. As images, the forms reference Walt Disney cartoon characters. Their graphic quality, however, suggests a Pop Art sensibility that never settles easily within either genre.
The evolutionary nature of inventing shapes from other shapes and the process of drawing through that in successive bodies of work is, in actual fact, the 'missing link'. These anthropomorphic figures, with names such as Gene Fool, Tooth Head and Joob, can be seen as the genetic spawn of Mang. This is a fertile breeding ground where biology and art share fluids with the asethete and the iconoclast. Is it sardonic abstraction or a celebration of Blobism? Perhaps both, and quite possibly neither (entirely).
Son Of Mang is the artistic progeny where the imagination is the creator, and its genetic inheritance comes from a life-time of inventing and re-inventing forms with DNA deep inside the plastic arts of drawing and painting. It's all in the mind you know. The creative mind really does make Matter matter."
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