Heavy trees, arms and legs
Sat 24 Apr 2021, 09:30 am
The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū
208 Bridge St, Nelson
Exhibitions, Visual Arts, Painting, Sculpture,
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Heavy trees, arms and legs
Nicola Farquhar and Sorawit Songsataya
Developed by The Physics Room in partnership with The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū
Venue: The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū, Nelson
Exhibition preview: Friday 23 April, 5:30pm
Exhibition runs: 24 April – 18 July 2021
‘Heavy trees, arms and legs’ is a line from Rebecca Tamás’ poem Palermo. The weight of limbs—branches, bones, roots, tendons—anchors this exhibition of new works by Nicola Farquhar and Sorawit Songsataya. Heavy trees, arms and legs recognises gravity as a compositional force that shapes us as living bodies, and connects us with elements in the natural world. The exhibition considers the potential of imagined forms to generate more fluid understandings of the environment we are a part of.
In Farquhar’s oil paintings recurring motifs—eyes, moons, stomachs, wax candles, birds, strawberries—irregular geometric structures and ‘background’ are deeply entangled. Plaster sculptures, often balancing on the canvases they accompany, suggest the dynamic state of all matter, the transformative possibilities of mould, melt, scab and fossil. Farquhar’s works belong to a world in motion, a warming and climatically unstable planet. They hold the urgency of concentrated momentum: volume and weight.
Songsataya’s sculptures are made from limestone, beeswax, fishbones and fake eyelashes, materials that are variously weighty, sealant, porous, remnant, useful. Without making a strong distinction between the organic and synthetic, human and nonhuman elements, in these works a relationship exists nonetheless in material and personal narrative.
In Tamás’ poem the sense of heaviness occurs in a state of all-consuming physical pleasure, that of the “sea slug with its own containing joy”. Heavy trees, arms and legs, too, acknowledges the substantial joy in our relationships with both our physical appetites and the natural world. There is also the heaviness of grief in the recognition that we live in an ecologically compromised world: that extractive capitalism exists in blunt violation of this relationship. In Farquhar and Songsataya’s work the two senses are held, different forms of weight.
Heavy trees, arms and legs has been developed by The Physics Room Contemporary Art Space in partnership with The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū. This exhibition is a continuation of The Physics Room's itinerant programme partnering with public galleries across Te Waipounamu, the South Island to create collaborative exhibitions.
Nicola Farquhar lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Recent exhibitions include Listening, twitching, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau (2020); Superstimulus, Tāmaki Makaurau (2019); A Holotype Heart, Hopkinson Mossman, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington (2018); Folded Eyes, Hopkinson Mossman, Tāmaki Makaurau (2017) and Necessary Distraction: A Painting Show, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2015).
Sorawit Songsataya is a Thai-born artist who lives and works in Te Whanganui-a-tara Wellington. Recent exhibitions include Come up for air, The Lightship, Tāmaki Makaurau (2020); Rumours (mermaid), Govett Brewster Art Gallery, Ngāmotu New Plymouth (2020); The Interior, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2019); Jupiter, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau (2018); Starling, Artspace Aotearoa, Tāmaki Makaurau (2018) and Soon Enough: Art in Action, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2018).
Image: Nicola Farquhar, Untitled, 2021. Oil on linen, 560 x 700mm. Courtesy of the artist.