Hello everyone. The four artists that have been residents at Kaus Australis for the last three months are showing their works. A welcome to you and as well a goodbye for them because they will be heading home in a few days.
Samira will return to Iran, Amanda goes back to Australia, Tomoko to Tokyo and Odette to South Africa. But for now, you are all invited to visit the studios they have lived and worked in. Walking into their studios is like walking into a small part of their lives. In the corridor you will find a mix of their works where those parts come together in a visual conversation. For you, this presentation is the first introduction to new works. You say hello, For them it is a way to say goodbye.
I have been involved in this programme for a year and a half now and I’ve had the privilege to meet many guests from may countries. I have visited their studios just after they moved in. I have talked with them during their stay about their work. And I have also seen the final outcome. We have been working together their presentations. Each and every group had a different dynamic and it has always been fun to work together.
I’m amazed that every time the dynamic of the group is completely different. Sometimes they start with something completely new, sometimes they continue with ideas or concepts, they were already working on. Every time its is a surprise. Because Kaus Australis is such a special place, the outcome of each working period is immensely positive and inspiring for the residents.
When I met Samira she started to talk about the political situation in her home country. She told me me about the sanctions against people who did not do what the government wanted them to do. She showed me the drawings and paintings she made of eyes. Eyes that can dream. She likes to compare them with galaxies far away. But to me her eyes are no science fiction, they tell very real stories. In the black and white drawings you see eyes with chains. They refer to the political situation in het country. They make ús see how people are bound and can see only that what a government wants them to see. She would love to stay longer. To live and work in a free and uncontrolled, unsensored, country.
Walking into Amanda’s studio is like walking into Amanda’s colourful rainbow country. A world full of fun and with playfull and happy props. I wanted to be part of that world. I wanted to try on her Mickey Mouse gloves, put on a mask with bright colours and pretty patterns and become one of the players in Amanda’s carnival. Like Samira, she uses chains, this time the chain is a way to connect, to tie one part with the other: metal chains becoming the arms of bright body full of colours. In another sculpture her chains are made out of fabric. Fabric is the material she likes to work with: soft sculptures and costumes. I think they are really attractive, the transport you into another world, a world of fantasy, play and sexuality. In her videos she underlines this by using grapes that grow on the south wall of this building and the dahlias she bought in the market. Both known for their sensuousness.
Out of the floor are sticking big golden hoops, they could be the links of a gold chain that links everything together.
And indeed it brings us to the next resident, Tomoko. She showed me some beautiful colours in paint tubes. One of them is the Green Gold, an oil paint she found in Italy. Tomoko told me about she is fascinated by the difference in coulours in different countries. She loves the Old Holland Green Light, a very vibrant apple green. You can find it in Dutch folklore. Houses in Marken and Volendam are painted in this bright colour. Then there is a Manganese Blue Extra, also a very strong colour. Tomoko loves these bright tones just as much as Amanda although their work could not be more different.
Beside the fact that colour seems to be a very specific thing for a country, there is also the factor light. The Dutch light was something that was admired by French Impressionists, They loved the grey, silvery quality of the Dutch skies. Tomoko was also taken by the Dutch light. She was here during this extremely hot summer. A completely different condition than Monet must have experienced.
She took photos outside that became the beginning of series of paintings where you can see the vibrating sunlight.
Odette comes from a country better known for vibrating sunlight. (You see, I’m stuck to the chain theme…) She’s from South Africa.
She makes great drawings. Just like Picasso she has had a pink period. She told me she’s now done with this colour. That is why she has shreaded her latest canvas. The remains are on show in the corridor. I love the tigers, the penises and vaginas, the people and the portraits. In her studio the drawings are spread out like a diary, a testimony of the work she has made here.
We’ve had some short but pretty intense conversations. May be not so much about art, more about live and the conditions under which we live. She compared The Netherlands and South Africa. Here her greatest worries were: how to get down the stairs safely (the stairs in the studio áre pretty steep) and not to fall from her bike. At home she has to be vigilant because she may get killed or robbed. Just as the best friend of her father who was killed in front of his wife and son for his wallet and mobile phone. I was completely blown away when she told me this, just as I was moved by Samira’s story about her country.
That was another link of this chain of four wonderful women.
Art is a basic principle of live. We need art to make things easier, to organise a live that is far too complicated to grasp. We need models and we need things of beauty or uglyness. Art helps us to raise questions. We need art to help us see beyond the problems that surround us. That is why art is not a hobby for lefties; it is a way to survive and look at world around us. Thank you Samira, Amanda, Tomoko and Odette for this insight.