Graham Fletcher: Situation Rooms
July 11 - September 10
Graham Fletcher, Untitled (2011), oil on paper
Graham Fletcher was the recipient of the Wallace Arts Trust Development Award at the 2010 Wallace Art Awards, a prize comprising a two-month artist’s residency at the Vermont Studio Centre (VSC), in Vermont USA. The three works in the exhibition are from a series Fletcher produced during his stay at VSC in 2011 and were later exhibited at Te Tuhi in 2012. They develop on his Lounge Room Tribalism series (2009), showing ethnographic objects set within lounge rooms of the 1950-60s. These compositions, using source material adapted from design periodicals of the 1950 -1970s era, reference the European tradition of collecting and displaying Oceanic and African artifacts in domestic settings. During the residency Fletcher had to consider the practicality of producing work abroad, such as how to feasibly transport artworks and materials to Vermont and back to New Zealand. With these concerns in mind he adapted his process from working with oils on canvases to the same medium on paper.
“The narrative impetus behind my work has to do with my experience of life as a person of mixed Samoan and European heritage and how cultural, social, and psychological states of being play out in my practice. More recently, I have been inspired by a number of private collections of tribal and ‘primitive’ art, which led to my researching the critical legacy of the widespread European tradition of housing collections of Oceanic or African tribal art in domestic settings. Of particular relevance, as an artist of dual heritage, was the question of how this legacy might be appropriated and subverted within a contemporary Pacific and New Zealand context. These investigations became the impetus for doctoral study from 2006-10. Through consideration of Robert Louis Stevenson’s story “The Beach of Falesá”; Walter Benjamin’s writing on mimicry; Homi K. Bhabha’s theory of ‘the third space’; Claude Lévi-Strauss’s notion of the ‘bricoleur’; Michael Taussig’s discussion of the productive instability of relations between original and copy; and Albert Wendt’s critique of the tyranny of the authentic in post-colonial culture – I constructed a critical space I termed ‘Lounge Room Tribalism’. Through both paintings and installations of sculptural objects I constructed ensembles that both parodied and furthered the unsettling combination of myth, aura and tactile material that so captivated the Surrealists and other early modern artists in so called ‘primitive art’.”
Graham Fletcher, b.1969, is based in Dunedin. In September this year he will participate in the International Painting Symposium “Mark Rothko 2017” in Daugavpils, Latvia. He has exhibited extensively in New Zealand and abroad since he began his career as an artist in the late 1990s. His works are held in collections around the country, including Te Papa Tongarewa and the Wallace Arts Trust. Fletcher has a Doctorate of Fine Arts (Elam School of Fine Arts, 2010) and is currently Senior Lecturer, Studio Coordinator of Painting at the Dunedin School of Art. Graham Fletcher is represented by Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland.