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Opposites attract for Aratoi’s next exhibition

A print from Dutch artist Gea Karhof will feature in the Distant Kinship exhibition, alongside the work of 18 other artists. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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It can be an overused phrased – ‘perfect juxtaposition’, but it’s well suited to Aratoi’s upcoming exhibition. The work on display at the end of this month is a guaranteed masterclass on bringing opposites together.

Aratoi public programmes spokeswoman Becky Bateman said the museum had leaned into its adventurous side with November’s featured artists.

The work was “inspiring, thought-provoking, and just a little bit strange”, she said.

And the approach to the display would also be unusual. “We’re effectively splitting a room in half. We don’t often do this.”

From November 27, on one side of the room, people would be confronted by beautiful mythic imagery with a subversive quality.

Artist Natasha Cousens’, Beyond the Red Flowers, was a collection of mixed-media sculptures invoking ideas of life and death, dark and light.

Sleep from Natasha Cousens’ Beyond the Red Flowers collection showing at Aratoi.

Bateman described the work as beautiful, “but with a dark, twisted edge to it, like all fairy-tales. It is a real contrast.”

On the opposite side of the room from the 3D creatures, visitors would find art from 18 Dutch and New Zealand printmakers.

Distant Kinship was an exploration of the relationship between the Netherlands, and New Zealand, said Bateman.

“The central question they are asking is – ‘are these countries so different after all?’”

The artists had found connections to Aotearoa through genealogy, travel, and the environment. Bateman said some artists were reminiscing about time spent here, while others had immersed themselves in the culture.

Despite being all 2D prints, she said there was a wealth of variety.

“You have this image of what a print looks like, but they are all so different. You have screen printing, woodblocks, lots of texture. It is really quite cool.”

The “fabulous” Esther Bunning would also be displaying her work PHOSPHENE 1: a portrait of a landscape. Bateman said they were delighted to have Bunning showing over summer.

The inspiration behind the work, which owed its title to Greek words phos [light] and phainein [to show], came from a trip to Kaitoke Regional Park.

The award-winning photographer was captivated by the kaleidoscopic pattern of leaves and light moving over a stretch of water. Bateman said Bunning’s exploration with silk and textile stitching on the images was intriguing.

“You have the thin wispiness of fabric against what you see in the photograph. It makes it super interesting.”

Bunning said she had never seen anything like it.

“I consider I was in the right place at the right time. The resulting images are extraordinary. Unlike anything I’ve ever done.”

PHOSPHENE 1: a portrait of a landscape is on display at Aratoi from November 20-February 7. Distant Kinship and Beyond the Red Flowers exhibit from November 27-February 20.

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