Susan Te Kahurangi King
Drawings 2008-2018, curated by Chris Byrne
Jun 27 — Jul 28
Marlborough Contemporary is pleased to announce Susan Te Kahurangi King: Drawings 2008-2018, curated by Chris Byrne. This will be the first exhibition dedicated to the artist’s post-2008 work and her second show in the gallery’s London space. The exhibition will include 22 drawings, as well as sketchbooks.
In 1951, Susan Te Kahurangi King was born in Te Aroha, a small rural town in New Zealand. As a three year old, King loved to play and sing. However, by the time she reached four her ability to speak was in decline, and by the age of eight she was mute. As King’s inability to verbally communicate increased, so too did her heightened ability and commitment to draw. Even at the tender age of seven, she was a extraordinary draftsperson and showed signs of precocious talent. In 1960 the family moved to Auckland and over the next three decades King continued her prolific output of astonishing drawings.
Around 1992 King left drawing behind completely. However, in 2008, sparked by the renewed interest shown towards her work and not long before the filming of Pictures of Susan (directed by Dan Salmon, Octopus Pictures Limited, 2012), she picked up the pencil again and began drawing, continuing where she had left off almost twenty years before.
Late in August 2008, King’s first drawing, following her lengthy hiatus, was prompted by her mother Dawn King. In an effort to encourage King to draw, she came up with a clever and insightful plan. Mindful of avoiding the risk of putting her off, Dawn deliberately steered around explicitly asking or suggesting to King that she create. Cleverly and strategically Dawn made an unfinished mark on paper using a stencil, leaving both the pencil and stencil at hand before exiting the scene. As hoped for, before long, King noticed the unfinished task, picked up the pencil and using the stencil, completed the unfinished mark. She went on to trace further shapes using the stencil, infill and embellish them, then continued to draw — sans stencil. Whatever it was that brought on the cessation so long ago, was now unlocked. A new era had begun. Since this reawakening, King is as dedicated now as she ever was.
As things moved forward with King's art, she has been very much included in the journey. In 2016, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami organized a survey of the artist’s work, accompanied by a published monograph. Also in 2016, the American Folk Art Museum established the Susan Te Kahurangi King Fellowship Program.
This past January, the American Folk Art Museum included King’s drawings in the group show Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic. The Museum of Modern Art in New York recently purchased three drawings by the artist for its permanent collection.
'Drawing with Susan' Saturday June 30, 3-6 pm
In 2013, King's sister Petita began running regular drawing workshops — creating an opportunity for people to draw alongside the artist. These events were held monthly. In October 2014, as they would be traveling to New York for King's first solo exhibition, rather than cancel the usual monthly drawing sessions, they decided to take them with them. Since then, “Drawing with Susan” events have been included alongside most of the exhibitions both in New Zealand and overseas.
'Drawing with Susan' will take place at Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle Street, on 30 June from 3 to 6 pm. Participants are encouraged to bring their own supplies. For further information, please email email@example.com
To get a ticket please click here.