Magazine article Artforum International

Susan Te Kahurangi King: Andrew Edlin Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Susan Te Kahurangi King: Andrew Edlin Gallery

Article excerpt

Susan Te Kahurangi King

ANDREW EDLIN GALLERY

Susan Te Kahurangi King's rich, strange drawings at Andrew Edlin Gallery fell into two groups: works from the 1970s and those from the '80s. The works in the earlier group are kinetic: They evoke waves that surge and loom and fall from one side of a sheet to another, and that seem to have taken up--and then been taken over by--a mass of cartoon-like objects and shapes in their paths: spoonbills, Mickey Mouse hands, a pinwheel of legs, a curvy calf, and a foot in a Mary Jane-style shoe. Difficult, at times, to discern, these items appear and reappear in fields of soft pencil marks that sometimes fade to a light graphite or watercolor wash, occasionally interrupted by rougher swatches of colored crayon or ink.

At the age of four, the New Zealand-born King gradually stopped speaking, and her parents encouraged her to draw. The recent exhibition coincided with an exhibition of the artist's work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, organized by Tina Kukielski, which included output from the beginning of King's life to the present, before and after a nearly twenty-year period when, in addition to not speaking, she stopped drawing, too. An exhibition at Andrew Edlin Gallery two years ago featured some of the artist's early work. (That show was organized by curator Chris Byrne, who co-organized the recent exhibition with gallerist Robin Heald.) In those pieces, the cartoon figures were larger, more discrete and identifiable. They had often been on the receiving end of some terrible brutality: severed, tom apart, fragmented into multiple perspectives, the usual stuff of cartoon violence made newly and intensely visceral in King's sly renderings.

The drawings in the recent show, albeit still dark, contained a more muted sense of mayhem. In one (the works were all untitled and undated), a cresting shape was created and filled by planks that climbed the curve of the undulation as if they were self-replicating stairs or piano keys playing their own arpeggio, like something out of Fantasia. …

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