Ronnie van Hout has been described as Australasia’s most irreverent artist, undermining the art gallery as a serious and venerable cultural institution, yet at the same time managing to create challenging works that consider the shifting nature and anxiety of identity in the 21st century.Van Hout was born in New Zealand and has lived in Melbourne since the late 1990s. He studied at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts (1980-1982) Christchurch, and completed an MFA at the RMIT University in Melbourne in 1999.Read More
Van Hout’s art encompasses painting, embroidery, video and installation art, with the artist acting out a multitude of public identities including Norman Bates, Charles Manson, Colin McCahon and a social stereotypes such as a thief, and vagabond. Characterised by an iconography that reveals the artist’s ambition for both failure and success, van Hout’s art celebrates the persona of the artist-as-outsider.
Van Hout’s work often examines his ‘artistic’ self, those reflex mechanisms and role plays through which he maintains his public artist persona. He uses humour and pathos to evaluate thinking patterns and identity. Drawing on sources as diverse as science fiction, celebrity culture, and his Dutch family, this artist takes his deep anxiety seriously, yet with a sly calculated humour. Taunting himself - the apparent eccentric who is also a drunken or vomiting ape, or kidnapping alien – and his audience, he specializes in a painful interiority that while witty in its use of punning props (like model rocks) is also excruciatingly corny.
Van Hout’s work was the subject of a retrospective touring exhibition, I’ve Abandoned Me in 2003 and has been included in a number of survey exhibitions, including Toi Toi Toi: Three Generations of Artists From New Zealand, (Kassel 1999). His work is held in the collection of Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand, Wellington and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
The Christchurch Art Gallery's fund for purchasing artworks will be cut by more than two thirds under wide-ranging budget cuts proposed for the arts. The cuts mean the gallery's art buying fund will fall from $250,000 a year to $80,000 a year, making it one of the most poorly funded art collections in the country. It has to trim 6 per cent...