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Susan Te Kahurangi King: Drawings from Many Worlds

Curated by Chris Byrne

October 30, 2014 – January 10, 2015

Susan Te Kahurangi King: Drawings from Many Worlds
Susan Te Kahurangi King: Drawings from Many Worlds
Susan Te Kahurangi King: Drawings from Many Worlds
Susan Te Kahurangi King: Drawings from Many Worlds
Susan Te Kahurangi King: Drawings from Many Worlds
Susan Te Kahurangi King: Drawings from Many Worlds

Opening reception: Thursday, October 30th, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Andrew Edlin Gallery is excited to announce the debut solo gallery exhibition in the United States of the drawings of Susan Te Kahurangi King, a self-taught artist from New Zealand. The exhibition is organized by independent curator Chris Byrne. In recent years, King’s art has become emblematic of the dynamic talent emerging in the self-taught/outsider art field in East Asia and the broader, Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, her drawings have caught the attention of contemporary art collectors, curators and critics who savor their affinities with the works of other widely recognized artists.

In King’s compositions, viewers will find peculiar perspectives, a collage-like, breaking-up of pictorial space and the subject matter she depicts in it, and a rollicking sense of the artist’s powerful and expressive art-making line. In his review of the 2014 Outsider Art Fair, New York Magazine’s Jerry Saltz singled out King’s work in the booth of Chris Byrne and Marquand Books for its “…strange abstract combinations or knitted-together landscapes of cartoon parts, notably Donald Duck, arranged in ways that echo Willem de Kooning, Jim Nutt's meticulous piecing together of body parts and distortion, Roy Lichtenstein's stylized cartooning, and Carroll Dunham's deft space and line.”

Susan Te Kahurangi King was born in 1951 in Te Aroha, the second in a family that would eventually include twelve children. She grew up in a farming town on New Zealand’s North Island, and her parents, who studied and championed their country’s indigenous Maori culture, gave her a Maori middle name, which means “treasured one.” Around the age of four, for no apparent reason, Susan stopped speaking,
but continued to express herself through prolific drawings and sketchbooks. For many years, her parents sought medical help for their daughter, but decades ago, little was understood about Susan’s condition.

Mysteriously, beginning in the late 1980s, Susan stopped making art altogether. Then, after about 20 years, in 2008, she resumed making her drawings, with their unusual compositions and curious quoting of found source material, including the cartoon characters she admires.

Chris Byrne is the author of a graphic novel project entitled The Magician. Also the co-founder of the Dallas Art Fair, he has organized numerous exhibitions including Peter Saul: 50 Years of Painting (Haunch of Venison, New York, 2011) and with Gary Panter co-curated ZAP: Masters of Psychedelic Art (Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, 2012). Byrne is the former Chairman of the Board of the American Visionary Art Museum and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Dallas Contemporary.

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