Village Arts celebrates Michelle Mayn’s return to the Hokianga with a solo show.
Curated by Heiwari Johnson. Make Your Self At Home – an existential exploration of space, place and identity, features an exciting line-up 20 selected Hokianga and Northland artists.
Chris Grosz is a renowned political cartoonist, painter, and musician. This retrospective exhibition of his work includes posters, paintings, cartoons and copies of Chris’s graphic novel Kimbell Bent:Malcontent – based on the true story of a British Army deserter who fought with local Maori during the Taranaki Land Wars.
Last January, Auckland-based poster designer, cartoonist, painter, art director, illustrator and musician, graphic designer, painter, cartoonist, caricaturist, creative director and musician was in the Hokianga, playing slide guitar on the back deck of the Masonic pub in Rawene at the Inaugural Hokianga Messaround. During a break he was surprised to recognise in the crowd a familiar face from the past. It was Kohukohu Village Arts Gallery’s director Marg Morrow and they worked out it had been over forty years since they were both studying at Christchurch’s Ilam art school alongside fellow artists and jug band enthusiasts Bill Hammond, Warwick Brock and Dick Frizzell. That was when they started to plan a major retrospective of Grosz’s work that would cover his prolific output of paintings, cartoons, drawings and illustrations over the past forty years. The ensuing exhibition opens at Village Arts next Saturday November 12 at 11am (with appropriate musical accompaniment) and will run for the following month to allow locals and visitors to experience this self-confessed ‘wild man’s’ unique talent and vision.
Grosz’s multi-media work reflects his wide range of influences from the hand-drawn calligraphy, lino and mono prints made famous by ‘old school’ artists like Albrecht Durer and Gustave Dore to his pop art tour posters for some of his favourite musicians including Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, U2, Tom Waits and Ry Cooder. But Grosz is nothing if not eclectic, producing work in a dazzling range of media, including Scraperboard, gouache, water colour and digital drawing with Photoshop. During a long sojourn in Australia he was renowned for his bitingly satirical caricatures of Australian politicians, compiled together in a book titled Australian Encounters. Typical is his version of the moment when Bob Hawke grounded Frank Sinatra’s private jet for calling Australian journalists “bums” and “hookers” after he was harassed by paparazzi. Grosz’s cartoons have featured in publications as diverse as The Melbourne Age, The Bulletin, Time, Qantas review, The Australian Accountant, The Listener, The Daily Mirror, and Meanjin.
This exhibition reflects the impressive scope of Grosz’s mediums and styles, hard and soft, expressionist and hyper-real. As well as his illustrations for children’s books it will also feature original art from his graphic novel, Kimble Bent: Malcontent – published by Random House in 2012. A finalist in the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, it tells the real life adventure story of an American who joined the British army and after a public whipping deserted to live among Taranaki Maori in the 1860s.
These days, Grosz admits he might be getting on but he is not slowing down. As well as his art he regularly tours with a three-piece country blues outfit called the Black Soap Boys and has numerous new creative projects on the boil.
“Death will probably take me out with a pen in my hand. But that’s alright,” he says. “Several of my friends have said ‘you’ve made your run a bit late mate’. And I said, ‘well what does that mean?’ because they’ve all done their thing and they’re all retired and driving around on ride-on mowers and having a wonderful life and now I’m just getting ready to do all these new projects.
“But you know, some people mature later.”