Performative Geographies

11 July to 8 August 2020.

This exhibition, which brings together a New Zealand and a Chinese artist, argues for strong correlations between historical Western and historical Chinese representations and cultural uses of islands. To understand ‘islandness’ in the cultural imagination both artists produce performative geographies beginning with the assumption that the meaning of islands is not so much apprehended as produced through painting and the construction of images. This is an approach to thinking about islands that refuses to conceive of their meaning as fixed or stable, and attests to the cross-cultural lure of the island for the human imagination.

John Reynolds takes a myth of the origin of Rangitoto, the island that dominates Aucklanders’ daily imaginations, and reproduces it from above as if dropped by a giant hand, but also as an early colonial coastal profile. He has turned for further inspiration to Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter who completed geological surveys of Auckland and its volcanoes in 1858-9. Hochstetter produced a remarkable map which, as Sarah Treadwell has remarked, “depicts the astonishing base condition of the city as recurringly volcanic with fiery, unpredictable eruptions that cause both devastation and, later abundant productivity.” Like Hochstetter in his map, Reynolds weaves a complex “relationship between skin and ground, ground and body”, above and below, tones of sandstone and lines of contour and lava. He punctuates his double-view of Rangitoto with small “dots of volcanic activity”, the small signs of the fire and ash of his work’s title.

Islands have long played an important role in the Chinese worldview and narratives of islands go back over two millennia, to the very earliest extant Chinese literature. In Ancient and Imperial China, islands were associated with sacred or heavenly realms, abodes of gods and spirits, and the possibility of immortality. This tradition interacted with Taoist and emergent Buddhist traditions as well, and fed into palace garden landscape architecture, which sought to imitate sacred island landscapes and spatialities. Jin Jiangbo has turned to the myth of Penglai and its representation in the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang in Gansu Province which contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of a thousand years. He has researched the techniques of the Dunhuang painted murals, where many of the early figures used painting techniques which originated in India, and where shading was applied to achieve a three-dimensional effect. This shading technique is unique to Dunhuang in this period as shading on faces was generally not found in Chinese painting until much later deriving from the influence of European painting. The Dunhuang murals were also notable for their use of silver and gold leaf. In Cave 61 there is a panoramic wall painting of Mount Wutai, the sacred Buddhist site in Shanxi Province, “bathed in golden light and transformed into a Buddhist paradise outside the boundaries of time and space” which, with its depicted temples and divine sites, represents “a synthesis of geography and iconography.” Among its five terraces, which signify the spiritual journey to be traversed, the southern terrace makes reference to the legendary island of Penglai. A manuscript poem by Xuanben found in another nearby cave “notes the cosmic qualities of the Southern Terrace by comparing it to Penglai, the legendary isle of the transcendents in the Eastern Sea.”



The Auckland Art Fair 2021

24.02 - 28.02

The Armory Show 2010 | 1001 Nights
an installation by John Reynolds

Art LA Contemporary 2010

ShContemporary 2008 | Gavin Hipkins, Hye Rim Lee, Jae Hoon Lee and Grant Stevens

Sydney Contemporary Presents 2020

Sydney Contemporary 2018

Auckland Art Fair 2018

Auckland Art Fair Projects - Billy Apple®

Auckland Art Fair 2018 - Soap Box Symposium

Art Basel Hong Kong 2018

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2018

Dialogues | London Art Fair 2018 | P18a

Sydney Contemporary 2017

Video Contemporary | Sydney Contemporary 2017

Art Basel Hong Kong Film 2017

VIRTUAL FAIR - Auckland Art Fair

Art Basel Hong Kong 2017

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2017

Auckland Art Fair 2016

Auckland Art Fair | Projects Programme 2016

Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 | Encounters

Art Basel Hong Kong 2016


Sydney Contemporary 2015

Installation Contemporary Sydney Contemporary 2015

Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 | Michael Zavros

Art Basel Hong Kong 2020

Art Stage Singapore 2015 | Grant Stevens

Melbourne Art Fair 2014 | Michael Zavros

Art Basel Hong Kong 2014, Encounters | Rebecca Baumann

Art Basel Hong Kong 2014 | Gordon Walters

Auckland Art Fair 2013

Sydney Contemporary 2013

Sydney Contemporary | Video Contemporary 2013 Grant Stevens | Clinton Watkins

Sydney Contemporary | Installation Contemporary 2013

Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 | Billy Apple

The Armory Film March 2012 | Gavin Hipkins This Fine Island

Art Basel Hong Kong 2020 - Encounters

The Armory Show 2012 | Martin Basher

Melbourne Art Fair 2012

Art Hong Kong 2012 | Jin Jiangbo

Art Hong Kong 2011

Art Beijing 2010 | Whitney Bedford, Jin Jiangbo and John Reynolds

Art Hong Kong 2010

ART Hong Kong 2009 | John Reynolds

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2020

Art Basel 39 | Art Unlimited 2008 | et al

Art Basel 39 2008 | Art Statements | Dane Mitchell: Conjuring Form

Performative Geographies

Sydney Contemporary 2019

Auckland Art Fair

Art Basel Hong Kong, 29 - 31 March 2019, Booth 1C03

Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2019