Visual kick drives Watene

SPIRIT: Works in a range of media and that reference in part modern art movements and street culture make up artist Yonel Watene’s installation, Spirit, at the Paul Nache Gallery. Picture by Liam Clayton

WORKS that touch on the autobiographical, a love for early modernism and American contemporary abstraction that tends to a “visual kick in the nuts” are part of Yonel Watene’s installation at the Paul Nache Gallery.

The installation Spirit builds on themes Watene invested in Mackie Boy, held in Dunedin this year, and which he describes as his most ambitious show yet. Mackie Boy featured large paintings, assemblages, sculpture, installation, photography and a fruit bowl series.

“I wanted to segment the room into three parts,” says Watene.

“On the left hand side the paintings were about portraiture. In the centre of the room were sculptures to do with the land and tangata whenua.

“The right hand side was a tribute to early 20th century modernism.

“It’s all to do with humanity.”

In his book, The Sun, Moon and Stars that accompanied the installation, Watene says that while searching for something new and honest to himself he “didn’t have to venture far to realise the art I enjoy is almost absolutely, inherently f*****.”

“Despite my hyper-subjectivity around art-making, I’m a major fan of modernist/post-modernist design (clean, boring s***), and am almost anti-emotive/subjective design (think grungy 90s design).”

He cites such American contemporary artists as Josh Smith, who addresses painting through art historical references that range from expressionism to pop art. Smith’s palm tree paintings recall the near-anarchic colour use of the fauvists. Palm trees also feature in some of Watene’s works including the self-referential FTKP (F*** the Karma Police).

The work is a tribute to tagging culture and a self portrait, says Watene. It also references Radiohead’s song by the same name.

Henry Taylor’s Michael Jackson mural that was part of an urban-grunge flavoured installation, and Joe Bradley’s “weed-induced, paranoia driven” Schmagoo paintings that include caveman-like outlines of forms such as a cross, a fish, a stick man floating in space, also offered Watene that “visual kick in the nuts”.

Watene’s recurrent motif of the simply-drawn smiling face was originally to be a homage to his father “but now it’s a cheeky face, a Cheshire cat”.

Deep in the background of his work is a grunge aesthetic that includes a wave at American artist Robert Rauschenberg who combined painting materials and everyday objects such as clothing and urban debris.

Watene’s work will be presented as an installation by way of an introduction to Gisborne, says Paul Nache Gallery owner Matt Clarke.

“What turned me on to his work is they were all so honest,” he says.

WORKS that touch on the autobiographical, a love for early modernism and American contemporary abstraction that tends to a “visual kick in the nuts” are part of Yonel Watene’s installation at the Paul Nache Gallery.

The installation Spirit builds on themes Watene invested in Mackie Boy, held in Dunedin this year, and which he describes as his most ambitious show yet. Mackie Boy featured large paintings, assemblages, sculpture, installation, photography and a fruit bowl series.

“I wanted to segment the room into three parts,” says Watene.

“On the left hand side the paintings were about portraiture. In the centre of the room were sculptures to do with the land and tangata whenua.

“The right hand side was a tribute to early 20th century modernism.

“It’s all to do with humanity.”

In his book, The Sun, Moon and Stars that accompanied the installation, Watene says that while searching for something new and honest to himself he “didn’t have to venture far to realise the art I enjoy is almost absolutely, inherently f*****.”

“Despite my hyper-subjectivity around art-making, I’m a major fan of modernist/post-modernist design (clean, boring s***), and am almost anti-emotive/subjective design (think grungy 90s design).”

He cites such American contemporary artists as Josh Smith, who addresses painting through art historical references that range from expressionism to pop art. Smith’s palm tree paintings recall the near-anarchic colour use of the fauvists. Palm trees also feature in some of Watene’s works including the self-referential FTKP (F*** the Karma Police).

The work is a tribute to tagging culture and a self portrait, says Watene. It also references Radiohead’s song by the same name.

Henry Taylor’s Michael Jackson mural that was part of an urban-grunge flavoured installation, and Joe Bradley’s “weed-induced, paranoia driven” Schmagoo paintings that include caveman-like outlines of forms such as a cross, a fish, a stick man floating in space, also offered Watene that “visual kick in the nuts”.

Watene’s recurrent motif of the simply-drawn smiling face was originally to be a homage to his father “but now it’s a cheeky face, a Cheshire cat”.

Deep in the background of his work is a grunge aesthetic that includes a wave at American artist Robert Rauschenberg who combined painting materials and everyday objects such as clothing and urban debris.

Watene’s work will be presented as an installation by way of an introduction to Gisborne, says Paul Nache Gallery owner Matt Clarke.

“What turned me on to his work is they were all so honest,” he says.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you support the $6 million proposal for Rugby Park, which includes synthetic turf, an athletics track, additional sportsfield, all-weather sports pavilion and conference/function centre?