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Little, Little, Big
With her clever and unusual line work, Susan King sets up a mesmerizing display.
Pen, pencil and marker simultaneously expose their own materiality, whilst also evolving into new organisms.
Mounds grow, traversing through colour and form. From them sprout small globules which pulse with possibility. Paths emerge through rows of blocks, weaving through the ground. Slate-like forms wedge against one another, tentatively falling into place. Staggered cells float in a sea of microbes.
A chunky dash, a delicate flick, a bleed of a felt tip from the other side of the paper; King’s work is both spontaneous and composed. Amongst her livelier works lie ones that are less so, like spider webs tucked in corners waiting to be discovered.
Michael Prosee, Curator
Susan Te Kahurangi King, born 1951 in Te Aroha, is the second eldest in a family of twelve children. As a three-year-old, King loved to chat and play. At the age of five, her ability to speak was in decline, and by the time she reached eight, it was a thing of the past. Soon after starting school at five, her teacher reported that Susan displayed remarkable mental activity in the creation of complicated figures drawn on paper, and that she was able to concentrate on drawing for hours at a time. As King’s inability to speak set in, so too did her heightened ability and commitment to draw. Even at the tender age of seven, she was prolific and showed signs of talent as a young artist. In 1960 the family moved to Auckland, so Susan could attend the newly established IHC school, which she attended for almost three decades.
At some stage in the very early 1990s, King ceased her drawing practice. However, in 2008, fuelled by renewed interest shown in her work, not long before the filming of Pictures of Susan (directed by Dan Salmon, Octopus Pictures Limited, 2012), she picked up the pencil and began to draw, continuing where she had left off almost two decades prior. This exhibition features a selection of works created over the last ten years, spanning 2008 – 2018.
Less than a year after King recommenced drawing, she had her first ever solo exhibition, at Callan Park, Sydney, curated by Peter Faye. King’s exhibition history is extensive with representation in major Art Fairs, galleries and museums by prominent curators. She has featured in many exhibitions, events and publications in a range of contexts, both as an ‘Outsider Artist and a ‘Contemporary Artist’. These include; The Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, American Folk Art Museum New York, Marlborough Contemporary London, Outsider Art Fairs in New York and Paris with Chris Byrne, Andrew Edlin Gallery New York, Robert Heald Gallery Wellington, City Gallery Wellington and the Auckland Art Fair 2018.
Susan Te Kahurangi King has works in a number of national and international collections including, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York, the Chartwell Collection (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki) and the Wallace Arts Trust, New Zealand.
Susan Te Kahurangi King lives with family in Hamilton and continues her practice as a contemporary artist.
Susan Te Kahurangi King
Untitled, April 2009
31.7 x 44.7 cm
Ink on paper
Cat no NEWA20302
Courtesy of the artist and Robert Heald Gallery