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Auckland Arts Festival 2023: The Realists
March 4, 2023 @ 10:00 am – March 29, 2023 @ 4:00 pm
Auckland Arts Festival 2023: The Realists
brunelle dias, John Tiger Shen, Tèhlor-Lina Mareko and Samuel O’Malley
4 – 29 March 2023
The Realists asks what the art historical themes of Realism might look like in 2023, in a culture of radical transparency and photo apps with names like “BeReal”. If Gustave Courbet and Edward Hopper were born in the millennium, what kind of daily realities might they have chosen to represent? Using photographic portraiture (John Tiger Shen), digital photography (Tèhlor-Lina Mareko) and painting (brunelle dias and Samuel O’Malley) counter the hyper-performative times we’re living in with honest and reflective perspectives in this exhibition.
Realism saw artists like Courbet and Hopper convey a more faithful and honest depiction of reality than the art of their times. Courbet (1819 – 1877), for example, broke away from the idealism of academic art in favour of more humble, vernacular scenes in the wake of the French Revolution. Despite their relative truthfulness, we can see with hindsight how Courbet’s works and others like his were nonetheless inflected with the distorting effects and perspective of his era.
Since the turn of this century, our ability to create and share original content has accelerated. Our perception of everyday reality is deeply informed by the images and videos we produce online. The role of art in this context has subsequently been altered by our changing attitudes towards media, particularly photography, video and text, as we all have the power to narrate and filter our various realities through such platforms. In this contemporary context, what truths and feelings can artists touch on that the live feed or confessional narrative fails to capture?
Presented in association with the Auckland Arts Festival
brunelle dias is a painter based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She completed her Masters of Visual Art at AUT, School of Art and Design, in 2021. She is interested in the intimacy between figure and ground and the interconnection between past and present. Recent exhibitions include The Local Migrant at RM Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau; Idyll at Page Galleries, Te Whanganui-A-Tara; and a revisit of introspective fieldworks: the everyday in flux at Nathan Homestead, Tāmaki Makaurau, and the way things are at The Physics Room, Ōtautahi, all 2022.
John Tiger Shen is a photo media artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Born in Beijing, China, Shen moved to New Zealand at the age of 8. In recent years Shen’s practice has used photographic portraiture to explore and connect the Chinese community in Auckland. Shen has a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Whitecliffe College and was curated into the Sanderson Young Artists Show in 2021.
Tèhlor-Lina Mareko is a multimedia artist who uses photography and video to represent a sense of familiarity. She uses her everyday reality as a visual starting point for making photographs, video and sound works. By making images of moments or behaviours that slip through the cracks of the everyday, Mareko places importance on her family and her communities’ lived experiences as diasporic Samoan people. Moments, phrases, behaviors that seem ordinary or plain on the surface but are imbued with deeper, enigmatic Samoan qualities and meaning. Mareko has a Master of Visual Arts from AUT. Her work has been included in group shows including And Then What? at ST PAUL St Gallery, the 2018 Eden Arts Art School Awards, and Artists on Artists at Studio One Toi Tū, 2022.
Samuel O’Malley is a painter based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara / Wellington. His work explores themes of enigmatic narrativity and the use of pictorial imagery in contemporary art. Stemming from traditional painterly techniques, he applies these methods to instigate moody atmospheres that provide the starting block for the viewer to develop their own interpretations. O’Malley studies Fine Arts at Massey University College of Creative Arts and volunteers for Enjoy Contemporary Art Space. His oil painting ‘Pyramid’ was a finalist in the 2022 NZ Art Show, and he was awarded the RT Nelson Emerging Artist award.