July 19th through August 30th
Opening Reception: July 19th, 6-9 pm
Tarryn Teresa Gallery is pleased to announce the international debut of New Zealand-based artist, Rozi Demant.
Lovebirds, a continuation of her Love Lies Bleeding series, is presented at Tarryn Teresa gallery in association with Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand. Demant, who holds the rare and enviable position of having produced five sold-out solo exhibitions before reaching the age of 24, has taken almost two years to complete this new body of work which is highly anticipated by her extensive list of collectors worldwide.
Demant, a self-taught artist whose work loosely fits into the Pop Surrealist genre, has caused a sensation in New Zealand and is the first New Zealand artist to our knowledge to sell an exhibition of new work by auction. Due to an unprecedented demand for the artist’s work, this highly unusual step was taken by Warwick Henderson Gallery in an attempt to achieve equity for the many previously disappointed potential purchasers. In the five years that Demant has been exhibiting her paintings, the prices of her work have more than doubled. As a result, Demant has garnered much media attention and provoked telephone bidders from overseas to compete for her work at auctions held at her New Zealand gallery in Auckland.
In marked contrast to the hype surrounding her work, Demant herself is shy and reclusive, working out of her studio in the small town of Whakatane. When asked to speak about her work, she is reserved. Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent as to why she is so reticent. It is probable that her work is deeply personal. The sole female protagonist in her paintings bears a striking resemblance to the artist - it cannot be ignored that her paintings are a possible reflection of herself. Demant comments on her secrecy, “To talk about my paintings feels like I am exposing too much of myself, this is something I can’t and won’t do.” She is also adamant that although her work is highly symbolic, she wants viewers to interpret its meaning for themselves. Just like the Surrealist paintings of Picasso, Dali and Magritte (whom she cites as inspirations), much is left to the realms of the imagination and the subconscious. This is something which is important to Demant, as she feels that her work is better left to private contemplation in order to retain its particular mystery.
Demant’s surrealized women, who possess something of Modigliani’s style in their appearance, reside in dark, opulent, fantasy worlds. Her work continues to become more detailed and the mastery of her medium is apparent with each new body of work. This confidence is manifested in more intrepid subjects and imaginative narratives. Although her work has always been erotic through its use of burlesque-type characters dressed in revealing corsetry, in Lovebirds, her work has become more overtly sexual. Demant has introduced an albinistic character who adopts feline-like poses on the end of a chain, presided over by her captive - a somber dark-haired woman in gothic dress. The introduction of this character is decidedly different from her previous work which contained only one repeated female protagonist. Whereas in earlier works, the main character still retained childlike qualities, these new paintings are undeniably of mature women.
Although sexually provocative, Demant’s women always retain the elegance and poise of a balancing ballerina. Their elongated legs and exaggerated female proportions lend them a vulnerability and innocence that belies their sexual, sometimes tortured behavior. The Amaranthus Caudates (Loves Lies Bleeding flower) is still prominent in this series - it’s vivid blood-red hue suffusing the rich color palate of the works. There is tension between captor and captive, with the viewer left unsure as to who plays which role. In some paintings, the lonely, unobtainable protagonist purges cages from her mouth; while in others she holds them in her hand, confident, assertive, holding the feline characters captive. Demant is continually inventive and maybe in each series there are aspects of herself that she is tentatively exposing, or as of yet, unwilling to free.
Although Demant’s work draws comparisons with Pop Surrealism, she continues to be wholly unique and idiosyncratic in her approach. There is a subtlety and delicacy to her work that is clearly her own. Demant’s singular talent, coupled with her position as somewhat of an outsider, allows her work to remain distinctive and unclassifiable. As a result, her work continues to show great promise and is gifted with a rare, enigmatic and captivating beauty.
For further information, please contact the gallery.