Shane Cotton: The Hanging Sky

Since the early 1990s Shane Cotton has been one of New Zealand's most acclaimed painters. His works of the 1990s, with their sepia-toned landscapes and intricate inscriptions, played a pivotal part in that decade's debates about place, belonging, and bicultural identity. In the mid 2000s, however, Cotton headed in a spectacular and unexpected new direction, skywards.

Art Exhibition previously on at IMA - Institute of Modern Art in Queensland, Australia.
From Saturday 08 December 2012 to Saturday 02 March 2013

Tuara image Takarangi image The Painted Bird image Easy Forever, Forever Easy image

Published by Institute of Modern Art on Friday 23 November 2012.
Contact the publisher.

Employing a sombre new palette of blue and black, he painted the first in what would become a major series of skyscapes—vast, nocturnal spaces where strange birds speed and plummet. From these spare and vertiginous beginnings, Cotton’s skyscapes have become, across the last half-decade, increasingly complex and provocative—incorporating ragged skywriting and the ghostly features of upoko tuhituhi or ‘marked heads’. Far from defusing these words and images, Cotton’s paintings keep them charged and alive, insisting that the issues they raise must be reckoned with here and now. Above all, his recent works insist that painting itself is a space of exploration and possibility—a place of leaps, freefalls and charged collisions between different orders of imagery. The Hanging Sky brings together highlights from the past half-decade alongside a body of new work made especially for the exhibition, including one vast new mural-scale painting, a spectacular suite of ‘target’ prints, and a line-up of painted baseball bats that suggest both trophies and weapons.

The Hanging Sky is curated by Justin Paton and organised by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu in association with the IMA. The IMA thanks IMA Supporters and Hotel Urban. Shane Cotton is represented by Michael Lett, Auckland; Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington; and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne and Sydney. The IMA will be closed 23 December 2012–14 January 2013.