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Luise Fong Titirangi

Events > Exhibitions

Luise Fong
at Page Blackie Gallery
20 Aug 2009 - 13 Sep 2009

Added by PageBlackie New Zealand painter preserves environment

For twenty-five years, 45 year old Luise Fong has sought to explore the concept of being an ‘Asian artist’ in New Zealand.

Her distinctive paintings concentrate on the meaning of this geographic and cultural displacement. However, in her latest work, on show at Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington (18 August – 12 September), she has sidelined her cross-cultural exploration to focus on environmentalism.

Thrust into the heart of nature, peace and solitude as the first McCahon Trust Artist-in-residence for 2009 at the McCahon House in Titirangi, Fong was unprepared for the powerful influence and inspiration the surroundings would have on her painting practice.

Kauri trees are thought to have been on the planet for 130 million years while a single tree can live for 2000 years. Certainly for Colin McCahon in the 1950s, these trees became the one constant against which man could be measured – particularly man’s destructive attitude towards the environment. These towering watchmen influenced numerous series of paintings for him and he personally planted dozens of trees on the property to combat what he saw as a rising indifference to the environment.

Fong found it impossible to be unaffected by the majestic trees surrounding the McCahon House studio. Her new exhibition, titled Titirangi captures the Kauri in paint. Her paintings are not images of trees, but merged perspectives, rich patterns and surface textures of the distinctive Kauri bark, as though sections have been framed in some futuristic museum exhibit. In her graceful style, Fong builds successive surfaces of pooling gesso – painting, wiping and drying between each layer.

Page Blackie Gallery Co-Director James Blackie explains, “Since winning the Visa Gold art award in 1994, Luise has been exploring concepts of personal culture and has been at the forefront of the now in-vogue concept of ‘cultural hybridity’ for twenty years. With this series she’s taking a different stance, questioning the collective attitude toward the environment in this country. New Zealand prides itself on the clean and green image but Luise is attempting to expose this waning veil. It’s a brave stance and we salute her.”

“Celebrating what she describes as ‘learning how to talk tree’ Fong has come out of the bush concerned that urbanised New Zealanders are wilfully neglecting their surroundings.”


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