This collaborative project invited the audience to contribute to a large-scale wall drawing which was completed over the duration of the exhibition. As its starting point, the wall drawing responded to selected motifs found within a number of King’s works. A large-scale severed leg, Daffy duck’s beak and other anthropomorphic forms were reproduced on the existing gallery walls and functioned as prompts for collective response.
In association with From the One I Call My Own at City Gallery Wellington.
The recognition of Susan Te Kahurangi King as an extraordinary image maker continues to grow internationally , and now her work is gaining art world attention in New Zealand. Even if we in New Zealand cannot trust our own eyes (New Zealand institutions have been many years behind Europe and America in the recognition of , and the attribution of cultural value to, work by self-taught artists.), we can read, and we trust international art press.
The press Susan’s work has generated is unprecedented for a New Zealand artist. Jerry Saltz writes for the N.Y.Times among various other art mags. In 2014 he gushed about Susan’s solo show at the N.Y. Outsider Art fair, “Magical… the biggest discovery of the week” (a week that included the 100 or so contemporary U.S. and European galleries at the Frieze art fair, plus other smaller fairs, Pulse and NADA, plus the 40 or so galleries at the Outsider Art Fair). Saltz compared Susans work to De Kooning, Lichenstein, Carol Dunham, and Jim Nutt. And the rave reviews have continued. “…a gift to pure visual delectation” writes Faye Hirsch in the March 2015 issue of Art in America. More reviews appear in Hyperallergic, Art and Antiques, the Wall St. Journal. Susan is hot.
Reviewers and fellow artists scramble for superlatives to describe what Susan does with her humble pencil and paper. Because she does so very much. Almost every page demands scrutiny for her jeweler’s virtuosity in the movement and intersection of contour lines, the funky subject matter, the distortions, the endless inventiveness in the riffing and rendering of sampled cartoon anatomies, their topsy-turvy perspectives and the tidal flow of shapes across the page. And there are so many pages. Folder after folder, there are 10,000 drawings in the archive. For the international collector trawling the world for “outsider” savant discoveries, Susan is the once-in-a-lifetime holy grail.
Susan is unable to live independently from her family. And whenever her work is shown, sister Petita, herself a teacher and artist, works to arrange an open-to-all drawing session where Susan participates. The family firmly believes in keeping Susan and her work accessible, and in touch with the widest audience. It is interesting to consider how Susan’s inability to participate in the world verbally, and socially links to her very special ability to visualize and communicate through drawing. The “shut up and draw” sessions are social and educational events, they aim to include Susan in the celebration and the occasion of her exhibitions, and equally they aim at dissolving the stigma that kept Susan and her work isolated and marginalized for most of her life.
Curator N.Z. Outsider Art fair
Academic staff member
Bachelor Creative Industries