International artist shows at CAN in Napier

International artist shows at CAN in Napier
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Just in time for spring, I am excited to announce that CAN will be hosting an exhibition of international significance, opening with a bang on Friday, September 4, 5-7pm with a fundraising auction of contemporary painting, and Brayden Coldicott of Harcourts as our auctioneer.

The exhibition will feature the stunning and surprisingly fresh early work of international artist Asgar Bozorgi. Originally from a private collection in New Zealand, it has been donated to CAN to raise funds for the arts centre and also the SPCA. This is a rare opportunity to own a piece of an international artist’s work, and support some worthwhile charities, so come along to the celebratory opening on Friday, enjoy the fun of the auction and add your red dot to the gallery. All welcome, and light refreshments will be served.

Asgar Bozorgi is an Iranian artist, living in Berlin. He was born in Tabriz in Iran in 1954 and studied at the art school there. From 1983 until 1989 he studied painting at the University of Mimar Sinan Instanbul, Turkey. Since 1989 he has lived in Germany, originally in Heilbronn and since 1998 in Berlin.

All framed in white, the beautiful collection on display in the CAN Main Gallery comprises 18 contemporary abstract paintings varying in size but all containing vibrant fields of colour. As Bozorgi’s career progressed, it’s possible to see where these early works took him next. However, although his later works have become more refined, all of his works convey emotion through a combination of colour and light. The most important aspect is the play of the opposition between surface and depth, concealing and revealing, which is introduced by layers of paint and subtle forms that are visible through them. The images created by Bozorgi act on the principle of jagged, perforated “curtains”, they unblock the layers of the unconscious and reveal what is hidden in it.

The effect the viewer encounters when looking at an abstract composition is the reverse of the creative process, the sequence from tracing the surface to plunging into the deeper layers of the work.

The aim of Bozorgi’s paintings is to confront the viewer with their own way of perceiving, making them realise the basics of subjective perception. This act of self-reflection is a temporal experience, an examination of the phenomenon of temporality, of being “here” and “now” in a given space.

Although the influences of different cultures intersect in Asgar Bozorgi’s work, the artist is inspired mainly by expressive abstraction. He was born and raised in Iran, but after studying in Istanbul, he decided to move to Germany. The most important thing for him is the feeling of freedom, which is why he wanted to create in a democratic country that would guarantee him freedom of expression.

In his painting he touches on universal contexts, his paintings are a form of meditation on reality, up-to-date regardless of the latitude of the viewers who come into contact with his work.

Art is a story for Asgar, and individual works of art are separate books that require careful reading. According to this definition, an image can be defined as encoded information about the way of perceiving typical for a given artist, an invitation to accept multiple perspectives and the ability to read the same phenomenon, situation, object, seen differently each time. In light of this assumption, Bozorgi’s paintings are an encouragement to dialogue, an exercise in tolerance and openness to other ways of seeing.

Bozorgi is currently exhibiting at the Galeria BWA in Katowitz, Poland.

The tale of how this collection of Iranian artist Asgar Bozorgi’s early work came to be donated to CAN to raise funds is a fascinating yarn. Tanja Blinkhorn brought the paintings to CAN, and told us this story:

Tanja’s mother’s name is Helga Blinkhorn and Tanja grew up in Heilbronn, Germany. Heilbronn is a small town between Stuttgart and Heidelberg in the south of Germany. In 1990 Tanja left Germany to travel to the Cook Islands and New Zealand. She was away for nearly a year. In this timeframe her mother met Asgar.

Asgar had no money at the time, and with Tanja’s room being empty in their flat, her mother, Helga offered for him to stay there. He felt very obliged and as he had no money, he wanted to paint for Helga. He didn’t have enough money to buy the resources though, so she bought them for him. He painted and gifted her all the paintings in the collection at CAN to her, plus five others which the family have kept.

Helga left Germany in 1991 to move to Capetown in South Africa. This is the same year that Tanja moved to New Zealand. She took all the paintings with her to Capetown and lived there for 10 years. She loved it there, but as South Africa was becoming more and more unsafe for her to live there, she explored the idea of moving to New Zealand. At this stage Tanja had become a New Zealand citizen and as her only child Helga received permanent residency in four months and moved to Napier. She brought all the paintings with her.

In May 2020 year Helga moved into a senior residence in Auckland and the family decided to donate the paintings to CAN, so they could stay in Napier. A sincere thank you to Helga and Tanja Blinkhorn for this generous act that will allow local art appreciators to enjoy these works for many years to come.

All works are for sale. The profits will help CAN, a registered charity, to deliver on its mission purpose to the wider community — “the positive support, exploration and development of the arts in Napier, resulting in the widest dynamic arts interaction with the community, that significantly contributes to our local and regional arts scene”.

As per Helga’s request, a donation of $200 from the sale of the work will also be made to the Napier SPCA. The exhibition will be on display until Wednesday, September 16.

If you contact us quickly you may just be in time to book in to Dali Susanto’s weekend painting workshop at CAN on Saturday, September 5, Harakeke Weaving with Lee Olsen on Saturday, September 12 or Monoprinting with Angela Lalonde on Saturday, September 19. Email bookings@thecan.co.nz or call 06 835 9448 to check what’s available.

■ Lisa Feyen is the general manager for Creative Arts Napier (CAN), 16 Byron St. CAN is open seven days a week from Monday to Saturday, 10am-4pm and Sunday, 10am-2pm. Free entry. Info: 835-9448, thecan.co.nz or Facebook.



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