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Aus Australien

12 August 2008

Christchurch can get a taste of one of the current stars of the Australian art world with the opening of Christchurch Art Gallery’s Aus Australien exhibition.

Included in the exhibition are five prints by Mike Parr - a sculptor, performance artist, draughtsman and printmaker, with a reputation for extreme physical feats and self mutilation - all in the name of art.  Although confrontational, none of Parr’s prints will be as shocking as his most controversial artistic efforts.

Aus Australien(German for From Australia), is a suite of forty prints - five each byeight noted Australian printmakers Parr, Richard Dunn, Jenny Watson, Peter Tyndall, John Lethbridge, John Nixon, Vivienne Shark LeWitt and Ken Unsworth.   Nixon will have an additional presence at the Gallery, as his free-noise band The Donkey’s Tail will have three tracks playing as part of the Subsonic sound art programme in the car park bunker directly in front of the Gallery, from 1-19 September.  The Donkey’s Tail will also be performing live at the Gallery on the evening of 18 September.

The eight artists have worked in collaboration with printmakers, including the Australian master-printer John Loane and his Viridian Press, and used a variety of mediums including woodcuts, etchings, screenprints and lithography.  The suite of large prints was commissioned by the internationally renowned curator René Block who invited the artists to contribute to the suite while he was the Artistic Director of the 1990 Biennale of Sydney.

“Many printmaking processes involve complicated procedures and techniques that can take years to master and the Aus Australien suite highlights the success of the collaborative relationships formed between artists and printmakers,” says curator Peter Vangioni.

For two of the featured artists, John Nixon and Vivienne Shark LeWitt, the invitation to take part in Aus Australien was their first foray into printmaking.

“Production of suites of prints throughout the 1980s was an important development in Australian printmaking as they often helped forge stronger links between contemporary Australian artists and printmaking,” says Peter Vangioni.

Aus Australien was purchased by the Robert McDougall Art Gallery and first exhibited there in 1992.  It has not been exhibited again since that time.

“It is interesting now to track the careers of those eight artists and to see the influence that printmaking challenge of twenty years ago has had on their development,” says Gallery Director Jenny Harper.  “We are also very fortunate to be hosting John Nixon in person in the near future as part of our public programme.”


Aus Australien will be at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu from 9 August until 9 November 2008.


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