Aotearoa Art Fair
2 – 5 March
Michael Lett is pleased to participate in the 2023 edition of the Aotearoa Art Fair.
The gallery is exhibiting new work by Tāmaki Makaurau based artist Anoushka Akel. A series of paintings on both stretched and un-stretched canvas investigate how paintings act as containers or vessels for holding prior movements, printed forms, as well as socialising with the visual languages of others.
For opening hours and ticket details, visit the fair website.
Expansion and contraction are explored, particularly in the context of anatomy and behaviour, for example, the interactions of nerves and spine and how these inform a fight or flight response. Wrack lines or coastal zones where organic material and debris like kelp or wood are deposited at high tide have provided subject-matter, and Akel continues to record her observations of the sea and wave-forms.
Akel considers these paintings as “backs” and “fronts.” The “backs” are raw, un-stretched canvases that are cut, soaked, squeezed and pressed, then printed and painted upon with a range of media including acrylics, oils, natural clays and charcoal. In contast the “fronts” are stretched and primed, then painted, sanded and re-painted with marks resembling those made by pencils or a biro pen. A multitude of tools are then used to smudge, scrape, press and brush the painted surface to build a picture. In the process of being made, artworks move around the studio as Akel utilises the floor and surrounding walls. Enjoying their mobility, these are definitely not easel-paintings.
In this latest body of work Akel posits painting as as a thing to put things in, operating like “a leaf a gourd a shell a net a sling a sack a bottle a pot a box a container. A holder a recipient.”* What kinds of entities might paintings hold or receive? For Akel these may be iterated marks, body-prints, drawings, sketches, coloured washes, borrowed compositions, traces of presence, injury, and care.
Painting becomes a practice of feminist world-making, testimony to specific, embodied instances of labour and production, actions that are excessive, barely contained by their material forms. Akel’s paintings as vessels alternate between moments of emptiness and plenitude, just like the belly of the universe or a bag filled with stars.
*Ursula Le Guin, “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” (1986)
Anoushka Akel is an artist who lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau. She received her MFA from the Elam School of Fine Arts in 2010. Akel works across the mediums of painting and printmaking engaging with various fields including: embodied knowledge, cognitive psychology, and aesthetics and philosophies of care. Her work considers pressure and plasticity in relation to the body, behaviour, and the art object.
Selected exhibitions include: Wet Contact, 2022, Michael Lett, Auckland; the body and its outside, 2021, Michael Lett, Auckland; (Red Legs) Hot Head, 2020, Goya Curtain, Tokyo; Learners, 2019, Hopkinson Mossman, Wellington; Biographies of Transition: Too Busy to Think, 2017 Artspace, Auckland, NZ; Chain of Mountains, 2016, TCB, Melbourne; Back, Front, Brain, 2016, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington; Painting: A Transitive Space, 2016, St. Paul Street Gallery 3, Auckland; Necessary Distraction: A Painting Show, 2015, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland; Hop Scotch, 2012, Artspace, Auckland.
Akel was the recipient of the C Art Trust Award in 2018 and was artist in residence at Künstlerhäuser Worpswede, Bremen, Germany in 2013.