Wealleans’ excavations suggest geological strata or delicate millefiori. Cutting chunks from one painting and adding them to the surface of another creates curious palimpsests that mirror the mutable position of the artist himself. Wealleans occupies various guises—painter, performer, offender, worldmaker—gleefully infusing his work with intricate fictions.
Exhibition Dates: 3 April – 26 April 2008
Rohan Wealleans’ paintings misbehave. A curious fusion of painting and sculpture, they exhibit a degree of freedom that confounds painterly conventions. Abundantly tactile, their shiny knobs, giant ‘gemstones’ and gorged bellies invite a friendly rub. The clawed fingers of Heart of the Head Vampire holder offer up an enormous ‘jewel,’ while Head Holder protrudes largely from the wall, its black and cavernous orifice a gaping mouth that has hungrily consumed up to eighty layers of paint.
Wealleans refined his technique in the early 2000s, applying house paint layer by layer onto hardwood boards punctuated by curious polystyrene growths. An incredibly time consuming process, his laborious preparation lies in contrast to the final immediacy of execution, in which the artist inflicts a shower of incisions with a craft knife, delighting in the evisceration of the painting’s multicoloured guts beneath.
Wealleans’ excavations suggest geological strata or delicate millefiori. Cutting chunks from one painting and adding them to the surface of another creates curious palimpsests that mirror the mutable position of the artist himself. Wealleans occupies various guises—painter, performer, offender, worldmaker—gleefully infusing his work with intricate fictions. The artist disregards categorisations like ‘high’ and ‘low’ in favour of diverse, at times otherworldly interests—“I want to see things I haven’t seen before so I’m still interested. If I’m not interested, then why should anyone else be?”
Rohan Wealleans’ (b.1977) work is held by Auckland Art Gallery, Te Papa Tongarewa The Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, The Govett-Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth and the Chartwell Collection as well as private collections in Australia and New Zealand. In 2002 he was the winner of the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award. The artist completed a 12 month residency in Dunedin as the 2005 recipient of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at Otago University. An exhibition catalogue Rohan Wealleans – Lets Make the Fire Turn Green with essays by Justin Paton and Linda Tyler has been produced by Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Wealleans won the Paramount Prize in the Wallace Art Award, Auckland in 2006. As part of the award, Wealleans will partake in a six-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Programme in New York in July 2008. He is the current recipient of the Colin McCahon House residency, Lopdell House, Titirangi. Slave of the Cannibal God is Rohan Wealleans’ second solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.