This month Zimmerman Art Gallery is featuring “Wings and Fur”, a new series of bug, bird and animal portraits by 22 year old Auckland artist, Paige Williams.
The paintings range from the realist to the surreal: lifelike small portraits of much loved native birds, the ruru and kārearea, sit beside paintings of creatures that are decidedly humanlike, both in dress and demeanour.
The largest and most detailed work in the exhibition is “Collector”.
The painting features a proud bunny with a gallery of assorted bugs; a truly curious juxtaposition, in which the young rabbit proudly poses in front of its collected specimens, each meticulously pinned and presented in a neatly framed insect box.
The work reflects the artist’s own passion for insects and spiders. On opposite sides of the painting are endemic specimens drawn from Paige’s personal collection: a New Zealand giant bush dragonfly on the right, and a tunnelweb spider on the left.
The spider, a harmless relative of the venomous Australian funnel-web, is drawn from a tunnelweb that Paige took care of “… for a long time, before it passed away.” Paige pinned and framed the dearly departed arachnid, which now permanently hangs on the wall above the artist’s easel.
Another specimen from the artist’s own collection is the five horned rhino beetle, depicted here behind the bunny’s ears. Tucked beneath the giant bush dragonfly is a Japanese giant hornet; the artist’s “shout out” to a famous YouTuber, who travelled to Japan to film himself being stung by one of these (kids, don’t try this at home!)
Other works in the exhibition take a playful poke at gender associations. Is the doe-eyed fawn, with a crown of flowers and frilly shirt, male or female? The artist, while painting the portrait, always viewed the deer as a boy, but others who view the painting often assume the fawn is a girl.
Gender associations are more cheekily asserted in the portrait of “Tanuki”. This character – the iconic Japanese racoon dog – has, since ancient times, been depicted in Japanese art, songs and statuary as having massive scrota. That background knowledge is helpful, when contemplating Paige’s portrait, in understanding why the mischievous tanuki proudly sports two prominent dangling bells.
Exhibition runs from 1 to 31 August 2019.
329 Main Street, Palmerston North
Other Important Info
Category: Contemporary Art
Monday: 11:00am–3:00pmTuesday: 11:00am–3:00pmWednesday: 11:00am–3:00pmThursday: 11:00am–3:00pmFriday: 11:00am–3:00pmSaturday: 11:00am–3:00pmSunday: 11:00am–3:00pm
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