Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Te Hā O Te Whenua (The Breath Of The Land)
Simon Kaan
By: Kathryn Tsui, Curator 

Artist Simon Kaan examines whenua (land) issues in this latest exhibition through landscapes that depict the connection of land to water, and land to sky. To consider the responsibility that belonging and living in a place has. 

These hauntingly sparse vistas relate to Kaan’s political concerns toward land and access rights. Sparseness is essential in the work, he explains it allows room to breathe, pause and meditate on what is not there. It alludes to the unseen spiritual and physical connection his shared ancestors would have had in the past. 

Kaan’s landscapes are ancestral, within the landscapes are a combination of visual motifs inherited from the artist’s Kai (Ngāi) Tahu and Chinese heritage. Ancestral balance is important to Kaan and this is demonstrated by neither image dominating the other, but rather coexisting within the picture plane. Structurally his landscapes follow the traditions of classical Chinese landscapes in which there is often a flow top to bottom, left to right.

“The landforms that Kaan creates are often loose adaptions of actual views or embedded memories, in which he captures the rhythms of the land.  These portrayals of land are once again accompanied by images of water, that seem to simultaneously divide and synthesise, in the form of rivers, waterfalls, mist and oceans,” Sanderson Contemporary Art.

As land, sky and waterways continue to dominate Kaan’s art practice he is able to capture scenes that are not only shaped by natural physical and political forces but also by absence and ancestry.

Artist biography
Simon Kaan is a renowned painter, printmaker and multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Dunedin. In 1993 Kaan gained a Diploma of Fine Arts with Honours, majoring in Printmaking from the School of Fine Art, Otago Polytechnic. Since then his work has been exhibited publically and with dealer galleries in New Zealand, Australia, New Mexico USA and China. Kaan was awarded the Creative New Zealand Red Gate Gallery Residency in Beijing in 2004. In 2012 he presented an installation at the International Symposium of electronic arts in New Mexico, USA.

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