|Kushana Bush, Pieta (detail), 2011, gouache and pencil on paper
In an unprecedented move, the University of Otago’s Hocken Library will take works by 2012 Frances Hodgkins Fellow Kushana Bush on a national tour that will include the Pah Homestead TSB Wallace Arts Centre in Auckland. The Exhibition,All Things to All Men: Kushana Bush continues at the Hocken Gallery until 14 April before opening at the Pah Homestead TSB Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland, on 23 April.
The exhibition, Bush’s first solo (single-artist) exhibition at a public gallery, comprises thirty-one delicate gouaches, all created last year during her tenure as the 2011 Frances Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago. This is an amazing feat considering the very time consuming method of applying gouache requires a high degree of precision.
Drawing on the passage in the Bible – To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1 Corinthians 9:22) – the title of the exhibition puts forward a utopian notion that art can service the needs of everyone who views it. Often captured in deliberately awkward or sexually intimate poses, her ordinary folk reveal a wealth of human sensibilities and spiritualties. These intricate gouaches suggest proximity between everyday life and the spiritual realm, a feature she shares with the British artist Stanley Spencer, whose work she admires. The everyday activities that Bush’s figures perform invariably take on a ritual-like aspect.
Inhabited by a multi-cultural cast of actors, Bush’s cosmopolitan images are rich mosaics of cultural difference that unsettle Eurocentric art histories. Her satirical and often disarmingly intimate gouaches bring together constituent elements from all over the world. Many portray domestic scenes or characters engaged in daily activities including bathing, gardening and worshiping.
Bush paints exclusively with gouache (pronounced ‘gwash’), a medium first used in the 13th century in illuminated manuscripts and Persian miniature art. It is a water-based paint which has either an extremely high level of pigmentation or a chalk-like substance suspended in it. Gouache has an opaque character and, depending on the colour used, can appear very vibrant.
Read the ODT feature by Charmian Smith online:
Blog post prepared by Natalie Poland, Curator of Pictorical Collections