Two artists will represent New Zealand
at the 53rd International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia
; Judy Millars installation, Giraffe-Bottle-Gun, curated by Leonhard Emmerling and Francis Upritchards installation, Save Yourself curated by Heather Galbraith and Francesco Manacorda.
From 7 June 22 November 2009 the New Zealand Pavilion will be located in two venues; Judy Millars installation will be at La Maddalena church, on the Strada Nova. One of Venices main thoroughfares, it is parallel to the Grand Canal on one of the prominent walking routes between Venice's train station and the Rialto.
Francis Upritchards Save Yourself will be exhibited in the intimate venue of Fondazione Claudio Buziol within Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana, and is located closer to the Rialto Bridge on the same route. Her second floor grand palazzo exhibition rooms look directly out at the Grand Canal and are a short distance from Judy Millars exhibition.
The generous and unusual physical dimensions of La Maddalena are central to Judy Millars exhibition Giraffe-Bottle-Gun, allowing a full play of spatial disruptions, dislocations and inversions. A large visceral image will surge and loop around the circular space, channelling the path of the viewer and establishing views and vistas around and across the architectural space. Tensions between notions of inside and outside, large and small and real and illusionistic space will unfold.
The installation Save Yourself by Francis Upritchard will include clusters of figures and structures spread through the elegant three chambers within the Fondazione Claudio Buziol. Each grouping occupies an imaginary landscape which exists in an indeterminate historical period and combines the antique and futuristic, making the scene both familiar and unsettling.
New Zealands Commissioner Jenny Harper said, Each venue is interesting in its own right, the Fondazione Claudio Buziol with its smaller-scale charm and uniqueness, and La Maddalena with its larger, but manageable, architectural scale. There is no question that each artist will be able to realise their creative endeavours to the best advantage in these venues.
Judy Millar: Giraffe-Bottle-Gun
The exhibition will consist of a cylindrical painting sited in the centre of the church of La Maddalena measuring 535 x 600 cm. Seven shaped canvasses ranging in size from 800 x 330 cm to 500 x 255 cm will lean around the walls of the church.
Judy Millar will be taking over the interior of the Neo-Classical structure La Maddalena, the only circular church in Venice, designed by Tommaso Temanza and built in1780. The largest piece in Millars exhibition, sited in the centre of the church, will be a painting in the round bulging and intruding into the viewers space in three dimensions. In other parts of the church oddly-shaped canvasses will lean against the walls, stretching their elongated necks to the ceiling, making obvious their temporary placement in Venice and their provisional relationship with this place of worship and belief.
The exhibition Giraffe-Bottle-Gun will instigate a lively dispute with the venue in which it intrudes, between the great history of Venetian painting and this contemporary practice.
Francis Upritchard: Save Yourself
"I want to create a visionary landscape, which refers to the hallucinatory works of the medieval painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel, and simultaneously draws on the utopian rhetoric of post-sixties counterculture, high modernist futurism and the warped dreams of survivalists, millenarians and social exiles." - Francis Upritchard
The figures populating these fantasy scenes are detailed with a psychedelic surface and a handmade quality. They are searchers, dreamers, dancers; consumed by their acts of meditation or lost in reverie. The installation combines the antique and futuristic, making the scene both familiar and unsettling. The work explores ideas about time, hope and evolutionary change and points to uncertain boundaries between high and applied art as experienced through the lavish decor of the Venetian palazzo.
Artist Judy Millar is considered one of New Zealands foremost painters. Central themes in the artists large scale paintings include the relationships between canvas and paint, static and movement and the place of painting in art history.
She studied at the University of Auckland, Elam School of Fine Arts, graduating with a BFA in 1980 and an MFA in 1983, returning in 1989 to the University of Auckland to study the writings of Italian feminist authors. She gained an Italian Government Scholarship in 1990 and spent a year in Turin researching the work of Italian artists from the 1960s and 1970s. While there she became increasingly convinced that painting could still be a vital part of the contemporary artistic landscape.
Francis Upritchard is a New Zealand artist living in London. She has exhibited extensively in Aotearoa New Zealand, Europe and America since graduating from Canterbury Universitys Ilam School of Fine Arts in 1997. In 2006 Francis Uprichard was the winner of the Walters Prize, New Zealands most prestigious contemporary art prize.
In 2007-08 Francis Upritchard took up a three month residency at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery resulting in the exhibition rainwob i before participating in a residency at Artspace Sydney where she presented rainwob ii. These exhibitions continue Upritchards exploration of utopian drives through fragments of real and fictional histories which are retrieved, reworked and reinvested with new meaning.
New Zealand Commissioner Jenny Harper has been a leader in the public arts domain in New Zealand for over twenty years. Appointed to her current role in 2006 as Director of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, she returned to New Zealand from Australia in the mid-1980s to take up the post of Senior Curator of International Art at New Zealand's National Art Gallery, Becoming the last director of the National Art Gallery she oversaw the smooth amalgamation of the former National Art Gallery and Museum. In 2003 Jenny was appointed to the role of Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Victoria University having developed over 13 years, the art history department .Under her leadership the ambitious Adam Art Gallery at the university was completed.