All posts by Sue Waymouth

Lee Mingwei and His Relations : The Art of Participation

Friday 10th February 6.00pm, in the members lounge.

Please join us for an evening with Lee Mingwei in the members lounge. You will meet the artist in an intimate setting, find out more about his practice, and have a chance to ask any questions you may have.
Principal Curator Zara Stanhope will then lead a discussion about participatory art, how it fits into the overall art landscape and what it means for audiences and artists alike.


RSVP to Charlotte Swasbrook :
Featured image, Lee Mingwei, The mending Project (Installation view), AucklandArt Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2016–17

Oscar Enberg

Contemporary Benefactors will have the chance to meet Oscar Enberg and hear about his work at Hopkinson Mossman gallery this evening.

For the second year, contemporary Benefactors are joining with the Chartwell Trust to commission a new site specific sculpture for the North Terrace. Enberg’s work has been selected and the work will be unveiled at a private function for Contemporary Benefactors and The Chartwell Trust, on the 2 December.

Oscar Enberg (b. 1988) lives and works in Auckland. He studied sculpture at ilam School of fine arts in Christchurch and his practice is firmly grounded in formalised sculpture. He creates collections of objects that may at first look like assemblages but are actually customised constructions. Enberg works with fabricators and craft makers to create forms from a variety of different materials, including glass, metal, oyster shell and wood. He was the 2016 recipient of Creative New Zealand’s Visual Art Residency and has spent a year in Berlin.

Oscar Enberg Jonkort, 2015 antique ivory, ebony and stainless steel 120 x 120 x 20mm


Chris Sharp and ‘Oscar Enberg’, ‘Nice to meet you’, Mousse 50 , October 2015

Below is an interesting interview between Oscar Enberg and Chris Sharp in Mousse Magazine.

Oscar Enberg’s work feeds on distraction and instability. His sculptures grow like erratic narratives remixing reality, and through the use of a hybrid vocabulary, a minor language that becomes material dialect.

Oscar Enberg (b. 1988) lives and works in Auckland. His installations typically weave together multiple (often prototypical) characters and storylines from film, television, literature, and social histories, which he then exploits as both generators of sculptural forms and construction logic for larger installations. In his recent work, Enberg has explored the role that chance plays in economic systems to reveal fundamental instabilities in those systems. In December 2015 he will present the solo exhibition “The prophet, the wise, the technician, and the Pharisee” at Artspace, Auckland, about a decisive moment in that city’s commercial history; it is a socioeconomic real estate fable synthesized in the structure of the nativity story. Enberg’s recent solo exhibitions include “Jean, Jean et l’enfant sauvage”, Thomas Duncan Gallery, Los Angeles (2015), “Sire So-and-So or Richard Pågen”, Johan Berggren, Malmö, Sweden (2014), and “The Pynchons, S01E02: Slouching Towards Dignity”, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland, New Zealand (2014). Earlier this year, Enberg participated in “Les Règles du Jeu / The Rules of the Game at Centre Pompidou”, Paris.

Oscar Enberg Silk Road Community Chest, 2015 ebony, ivory, stainless steel, sterling silver, receipt for Hong Kong Community Chest donation 120 x 300 x 120mm

CHRIS SHARP You make weird, multimedia, highly evocative sculpture/installation that doesn’t seem to fit in with any current trends in contemporary art. Perhaps the exception to this is your use of literary and pop-cultural narrative, which is maybe the best place to start. How does it function in your process?

OSCAR ENBERG For me, narrative operates as a sculptural generator—existing stories that deal with similar material or have a shared history all feed into a sort of content trough. Most often I build a new project around the city or site where the work will first be presented. I think it’s helpful when working to understand the core values of a community, and how they overlap—stories function like cultural barometers, reflecting the politics of the time and place they are produced. In the past I have adopted specific narrative models as a way of shaping exhibitions, too; the formal qualities of poetry, parables and short fiction, as well as the episodic structure of sitcoms,have all been employed as organizational devices.

Oscar Enberg Imagination Dead Imagine (lilt for tenor and Jean Arp electric guitar), 2015 brass, bronze, copper plated, powder coated and rusted steel flue, stainless steel cowl, hand woven willow, wrought iron, custom electric guitar (Fijian kauri, mahogany, rosewood, paua shell veneer) 2000 x 4500 x 1200mm overall

CS Your description is reminiscent of a cultural anthropologist. But the formalizations of these investigations hardly function as straightforward, critical glosses on the stories themselves; they seem to travel if not great, then anfractuous distances before they end up in one of your shows. How does this happen? Also, could you say a few words about your material vocabulary? With all the oak, wicker, handicrafts, blown glass and other markedly domestic materials, it strikes me as decidedly middle-class.

OE You ’re right, the way I digest and process content isn’t straightforward. It’s usually a very uncomfortable transmission of information into objects and exhibitions: an awkward alchemy perhaps. Last year I made a project in Basel entitled The Good Father and The Rich Uncle that was framed as a kind of warped parable; it was an attempt to encourage a conversation on morality, or family values at least, around the work. The project had several threads: I looked to the trajectory of Monopoly and the original Monopoly Man, Rich Uncle Pennybags; the final season of the US sitcom Roseanne (in which Roseanne dreams the family wins the lottery); the pear brandy Bon Père William; and Hans Arp’s automatic drawings. I used the structure of the family unit, a readymade cast of prototypical characters that have prescribed roles, a dynamic that’s readily understood, universal. As the content threads are manipulated into form, the narratives sort of swell and retract—certain details or forms gain currency, recur, take on qualities of, or piggyback on, these characters. So I can use them to reanimate, to play parts within a sculptural pantomime… At the moment I am particularly drawn to stories about luck, chance and risk, where speculation is involved, tales of how fortunes are won or lost. If the work feels middle-class, it’s because those are the values in high circulation. In making sculpture, I choose to communicate through materials and modes of production that inherently deal with the politics of my content. These materials include carved swamp Kauri, hand-woven willow, blown and stained glass and tapestry—I like crafts that feel almost anachronistic. The artisans I employ are themselves operating in a state of economic precarity and I see them as part of my ensemble cast, as potential protagonists. Then there are elements that contradict this slow labor—recently they might be lottery tickets or throwaway good luck charms, tokens from a more volatile, fast-moving economy. It’s crucial that the work follow its own singular logic, a logic that often feels familiar but unlikely. In that sense, I like to think of myself as operating in the Surrealist tradition—I suppose this links back to your thought on the artist as an anthropologist. James Clifford wrote something about every ethnographer being “something of a Surrealist, a re-inventor and re-shuffler of realities,” and this, albeit pretty outmoded, is kind of what I do.

Oscar Enberg the prophet, the wise, the technician and the Pharisee, 2015 installation view: Artspace, Auckland

CS I appreciate what you say about singular logic, which can also be characterized as internal logic or even better, idiosyncratic. Such a method presupposes and embraces transformation as an integral part of the art making process. But then again, I would argue that without transformation there is no real art. So in this case, your work becomes if not self-reflexive, then something of an unlikely allegory of art itself. Hence your “awkward alchemy,” which I also see as of the order of the crucible. All that said, there is an element of world-making in what you do, in the sense of Szeemann’s notion of what he called “Individual Mythology,” with the practices of artists like Beuys, Paul Thek, James Lee Byars, etc. This in the sense that objects or images are never autonomous but always contingent upon larger, self-generated constellations. However, vis-à-vis these predominantly heroic and shamanic figures, your practice seems much more fragmented, not to mention radically secular, even geeky. Perhaps the origin of this fragmentation can be located in the difference between, say, the grand narrative and the hyperlink. Still another parallel that seems to connect your work with these figures is the cultivation of a specific material vocabulary, which tends to transcend the heterogeneity of each individual and narratively complex project, while remaining relatively consistent.

Oscar Enberg the prophet, the wise, the technician and the Pharisee, 2015 installation view: Artspace, Auckland

OE I’m pleased you read the practice as somewhat fragmented in relation to the logic of its construction. My relationship to content, and the way I transmit it, is severely distracted, and my inability to follow the arc of a single narrative means that my approach to storytelling is fractured, or fractal. As a result I’ve become increasingly drawn to the chance meetings, moments of happenstance, where histories intersect, and luck becomes generative. I recently became aware of an extended period of correspondence between Samuel Beckett and the American cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller. During the 1950s, while Beckett was living in Paris, the two traded ideas for Bushmiller’s comic strip Nancy… there are these great sketches made in response to Beckett’s ideas for these distinctly absurd situations and characters—basically early storyboards for Endgame and Happy Days. This is exciting to me, to see Beckett’s highly articulated intellectual intention sketched in populist form; I like it when you can see content on the move, popping up in different guises. It’s often in the overlaps that I find my forms—they are mined from the same pit. I guess that is why I have developed a very definite sculptural language—materials stabilize these precarious narrative chains, even if only momentarily. It comes back to that notion of the impossibility of an autonomous image or object, I think. Maybe what I’m doing is building a specific vocabulary by bastardizing existing ones: creating a minor language, a material patois. I’m always looking for images and objects that might articulate my general methodology in a more economical way—a recent example would be the Ball & Claw form. For me, it is a material phrase that has been consistently perverted throughout its history; a traditional Chinese motif, borrowed by 18th-century European Orientalists for its formal qualities, resulting in a strange history of translation, or maybe more accurately mistranslation… I see it as a colonized image. Most recently I used the form in a work titled Silk Road Community Chest, as the handle of a custom, hand-carved ebony and antique ivory corkscrew (itself a form I have repeatedly returned to, as a symbol of physical compression and for its relationship to drinking, as a cartoon of the downward spiral). The work comprised of the corkscrew and a receipt for a donation I made to the Hong Kong Community Chest—was part of a larger material allegory of the Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau. I see the piece as a sort of dramatic reenactment of a very specific event, the annual donation made to the state-run charity by the proprietor of the casino, Stanley Ho, and more generally as a sort rebus for the ivory trade. I suppose it also illustrates another tendency in the practice: a consistent attempt to synthesize a kind of didacticism with something more poetic.

Oscar Enberg Christ in the Carpenter’s Shop: The Humility of the World Elephant, 2015 charcoal on passé partout, archival digital prints on premium lustre and dibond, permanent marker, metal punk spikes, framed 700 x 900 x 100mm

CS Are you then saying that your approach to storytelling is a byproduct of your (limited or even handicapped) attention span? As an indirect consequence, it would seem that your work is not so much about diagnosing the current moment as that of the age of the non sequitur, but rather it seeks to function as an attempt to symbolically negotiate the innumerable non sequiturs of which our moment is fantastically composed, to suture them together and thus invest them with some measure of unlikely coherence—or if not coherence, then a kind of material or Platonic legibility. Also, what do you mean by “a kind of didacticism”? This could potentially imply a number of things, the most obvious being an overt political impetus.

OE You’d be right to suggest that I’m not interested in diagnostics; I’m not so worried about the health of the “contemporary condition.” The distraction, handicap, volatility, is what fuels the work. My content is always average; it’s not hyper-current or on trend, nor is it completely irrelevant. I think of it as lukewarm; a good temperature for breeding. And I’m not interested in didacticism so much in the political sense, but rather its outmoded definition, as a classical form of allegory. It’s another narrative model to pervert; a story hidden in form that instructs as it entertains. I know the term implies an ulterior motive, a political agenda, but each project (each sculpture) is an amalgam of multiple stories, all of which come with their own specific moral strands. There isn’t one discernible lesson, other than instability. If the types of stories I return to tell me anything, it’s that we don’t learn anyway.

by Chris Sharp.  Mousse Magazine

Chris Sharp & Oscar Enberg, ‘Nice to Meet You’, Mousse 50, October 2015

*all images courtesy of the artist Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland

Our thanks to Hopkinson Mossman for hosting the Contemporary Benefactors at their gallery.

Spring Newsletter 2016

Walter’s Prize Walk Through with Natasha Conland

Contemporary Benefactors who braved the chilly evening to attend the walk-through of the Walters Prize finalists were well rewarded. Contemporary Curator Natasha Conland explained the selection process and how the prize is judged, and shared background on the four works on show. The Walters Prize has a reputation for being challenging, and this year is no exception. All four works comprise digital media explorations of how our past relates to our present. The experience of each was hugely enriched by Natasha’s explanation of their back story.

Our great thanks also go to Ivan Anthony for his entertaining explanations, on the rich collection of paintings and objects, which made up his June show Provenance.

Coming up at Auckland Art Gallery this quarter are three new exhibitions. The first is an historic survey of artist Gottfried Lindauer. The Maori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand, with over 120 portraits, is a unique occasion to view the work of this important figure in the Gallery’s establishment and history, opening night 23 October. This is followed by an exhibition of Taiwanese contemporary artist, Lee Mingwei. Lee Mingwei and his relations: The Art of Participation, developed by Mami Kataoka for Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, and adapted for Auckland Art Gallery, opens Friday 4 November. Then on Friday 26 November the survey exhibition Ann Shelton: Dark Matters opens in the Chartwell Galleries and offer a fresh prospective on this prominent New Zealand photographer.

Key Events: September to November  2016

Meet Artist Oscar Enberg

Tuesday 11 October from 6.30pm

Hopkinson Mossman

Auckland Artist Oscar Enberg has been commissioned to present the next North Terrace sculpture opening early in December. Please join in this opportunity to hear Oscar talk about the background of his work, meet him and ask any questions you may have about his process and practice.

North Terrace Opening

Oscar Enberg: Troubles de la croissance (der ursprung des pendels)

Friday 2 December 6pm

Please join us on Auckland Art Gallery’s North Terrace for a glass of Christmas champagne to celebrate the unveiling of the new North Terrace sculpture made possible by support from the Contemporary Benefactors and the Chartwell Trust.

Oscar Enberg Sire So-and-So or Richard Pågen, 2014 installation view: Johan Berggren, Malmö, Hopkinson Mossman Gallery

Please contact Charlotte Swasbrook, for more information

For more information on the Walter’s Prize go to the Auckland Art Gallery website

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tämaki. Your donation is going towards contemporary art exhibitions, publications and extensions to the Auckland Art Gallery public programme.



Winter Newsletter 2016

It has been a busy quarter again, with an inspiring lunchtime talk from photographer Fiona Pardington that included plenty of illuminating anecdotes about her photographic career. Most recently we supported the exhibition Space to Dream: Recent Art from South America in enabling a number of artists to come to New Zealand to install work and present in the opening visitor programme. Key among these was renowned Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar, who gave an unforgettable keynote lecture on the evening of 3 May. There was an opportunity to meet Alfredo that evening and he and other artists at the stakeholder preview of Space to Dream on Thursday 5 June. Our support also made it possible for the works of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark to come to Auckland, and that evening we saw her Sensory Masks and suit, The I and the You, in action!

Other stand-out events included artists’ talks over the opening weekend, which were attended by 674 visitors. The exhibition is receiving excellent reviews and recommendations, so please spread the word about the three South American themed weekends to come on 16/17 July, 20/21 August and 10/11 September. Be sure to check the Art Gallery website for details.


Key events July — September 2016

Dealer Gallery Visit

Thursday 23 Jun 6.30pm Ivan Anthony Gallery

Several of the Contemporary Benefactors joined esteemed Auckland gallerist Ivan Anthony who will introduced our Contemporary Benefactors group to his latest exhibition Provenance, which included ‘old masters’ in the company of New Zealand contemporary artists. This is the latest in our series of private introductions to Auckland dealer galleries.




The Walters Prize 2016 – An Introduction

Fri 5 Aug 6.30—8pm Auckland Art Gallery, Level 2, Members Lounge

Join exhibition curator Natasha Conland for an exclusive introduction to the Walters Prize 2016, New Zealand’s Contemporary Art Prize.

As the biennial industry award for contemporary art, this exhibition and prize nomination is often the most talked about event in our exhibition calendar. Come along for a glass of wine, an exhibition tour, and a behind- the-scenes account of the exhibition and nominated artists.

The Walters Prize Dinner

We have a date! The biennial Walters Prize Dinner will be held at the Gallery on Friday 30 September. Please await the press release and letter of invitation for more news on the most prestigious black tie award dinner

in our calendar. Make sure you don’t miss out on this opportunity. Get in early to purchase tickets or your table.

Please contact for more information.

 As a Contemporary Benefactor you will also receive invitations to exclusive openings run by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Please contact Charlotte Swasbrook if you are not receiving these invitations

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Your donation is going towards contemporary exhibitions, publications and extensions to

the Auckland Art Gallery public programme.




Space to Dream: Recent Art From South America

Space to Dream: Recent Art Of South America

The contemporary Benefactors enjoyed an exclusive pre-view of Space to Dream: Recent Art from South America, at the Auckland Art Gallery.

Co-curators Zara Stanhope and Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel discussing Maria Nepomuceno’s Grande Boca (Big Mouth) (detail) 2013

Co-curators Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel from Chile and Dr Zara Stanhope, Principal Curator at Auckland Art Gallery, walked us through the exhibition, along with South American Artists, Alfredo Jaar, Joaquin Sánchez and Máximo Corvalán.

Space to Dream is the first major exhibition in Australasia to introduce, in depth, the art of South America. The exhibition reveals how South American artists see a social significance for their work and how as rebels and revolutionaries, dreamers and poets, they have challenged, embraced, explained or transformed their realities, lives, cultures and spaces from the 1960s to today.

Kriselle Baker, Alfredo Jaar and Zara Stanhope in front of Joaquin Sanchez’s  Chaco 2012

Space to Dream includes the work of 41 artists and collectives across six countries – Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay. The exhibition includes senior figures internationally recognised for their contribution to art as well as younger figures including Lygia Clark, Juan Fernando Herrán, Alfredo Jaar, Marcos Lopez, Ernesto Neto, Hélio Oiticia, Bernardo Oyarzún, Lotty Rosenfeld, Martín Sastre and many more.

Oyanedel says, “it is a space of creativity, a space of possibility and a space about the cultural history of our region. It is a space to dream and a space to build society. “



Joaquin Sanchez discussing his work, translated by Beatriz Oyanedel. Rhana Devenport and Jim Farmer trying on Lygia Clark’s Mascara Sensorial (sensorial Mask) 1667,2016

Stanhope says “The exhibition has been curated to be seen as a whole and not chronological, or by Artist, Country or a particular subject matter. Although, there are a number of different themes, which run through the whole exhibition. There is a sense of memories that are being redrawn and resurfacing. There is also a great deal of humour and positivity in the works. There are different themes throughout the exhibition, such as revolution, memories, cultural origins, the blending of different ethnicities, through to the idea of new possibilities and new horizons.”

Space to Dream: Recent Art from South America is on from 7 May – 16 September. With masks and clothes to try on and artwork you can touch and smell, it is also an exhibition that will engage the whole family.

This exhibition was made possible with the help of the Contemporary Benefactors who contributed to the funding of Space to Dream: Recent art from South America.

Contemporary Benefactors enjoying dinner with Alfredo Jaar, Beatriz Oyanedel and Zara Stanhope.

For more information on Space to Dream: Recent Art from South America, visit the Auckland Art Gallery website