Christchurch-born and internationally renowned artist Ronnie van Hout has had a huge hand in Christchurch Art Gallery’s latest outdoor installation.
Quasi, a five-metre-tall sculpture of the artist’s hand and facial features, has been unveiled today on the Gallery’s rooftop, next to Gloucester Street.
Van Hout’s highly visible work is a continuation of the Gallery’s Outer Spaces programme, which has been running since 2009.
Director Jenny Harper says Quasi is a larger-than-life work that will make people laugh, think and discuss. “If there’s one thing that has defined post-quake Christchurch, it’s our creativity, and Quasi is a wonderfully bold continuation of that,” she says. “When the Gallery was closed for earthquake repairs, our Outer Spaces projects brought art out into the central city, taking over walls, temporary hoardings and vacant lots. We also installed another of Ronnie’s rooftop works, Comin’ Down, above C1 Espresso on High Street. Now that we are open again, Outer Spaces is back home, exploring new sites in and around the Gallery.
“Quasi’s arrival means the Gallery is now completely surrounded by art, facing outward to greet the city from all directions. It signals the energy and activity going on around us, and it’s up there for everyone to enjoy,” she adds.
Christchurch Art Gallery commissioned van Hout to create Quasi specifically for temporary installation on its rooftop. The towering work comprises a central steel structure covered with polystyrene and painted resin.
The Gallery owns nine works by van Hout, including two smaller-scale sculptures. Quasi will be on display above the Gallery until 2017.
About Ronnie van Hout
Ronnie van Hout is a well-known New Zealand artist now resident in Melbourne, who has exhibited widely throughout Australasia and internationally. He was born and grew up in Christchurch, studying at the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts. He returns often to visit his family and play with his band, Into the Void. A solo exhibition of his work toured New Zealand public art galleries in 2005. His works are included in many public and private collections in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Van Hout has been nominated for the prestigious Walters Prize twice, has been Creative New Zealand artist in residence in Berlin and New York, and was made a New Zealand Arts Laureate in 2005.
He is known for his exploration of the self, and makes works from a wide variety of media, including video, sculpture, painting, photography, sound and embroidery. His art is often autobiographical; he frequently uses his own likeness – as well as documents and memories from his own life – in his work, portraying himself as a monkey that paints and a dog that sculpts.
Other permanent and temporary public sculptures by van Hout include Fallen Robot in Lower Hutt, Dayton at Monash University in Melbourne, RUR at the Melbourne Art Fair, and A Loss, Again on Te Papa’s Sculpture Terrace.