Painting in Stone by Johannes Kuhnen
Exhibition / 08 May 2015 - 06 Jun 2015
- Helen Aitken-Kuhnen, Johannes Kuhnen, Mio Kuhnen
Taking back the former prominence of metals, in the new works of the artist texture and surface finish reinforce the dialogue of subtle natural colours of stone.
Johannes Kuhnen has found more time recently since departing from his long held position as Head of the Gold and Silversmithing Workshop at the Australian National University, a roll he held for over 29 years. This new found time has allowed Kuhnen the space and capacity to explore a new body of work, an exciting departure from his iconic aluminium and titanium oeuvre.
PAINTING IN STONE is a series of brooches, pendents and rings. Inspired by the Colour Fields paintings of the 1940’s and 50’s as well as the work of minimalist artist Robert Mangold, whose large and bright geometric constructions share a similar aesthetic to much of Kuhnen’s smaller in scale work. For this exhibition Kuhnen has used found sedimentary and volcanic rocks and stones as his principle material. Kuhnen creates flat planes with subtle combinations colour, using the natural appearance of the stones as his palette. This body of work is about colours and surfaces exploring the endless possibilities of the natural hues and textures found in his chosen material. While sourced from the landscape, these works are not of the landscape, Kuhnen says “the use of stone in this work is a means of stepping away from aluminium and extending my work with another material”. While Kuhnen’s use of stone can be traced back to works from 1985 and throughout his career, this is the first time it has made such a predominate appearance in a body of work.
Each piece uses two or three stones or rocks to generate horizontal coloured bars for the brooches and vertical constructions for the pendants. By creating minimal but protective armatures of titanium and gold that house either the brooch catch or the pendant attachment Kuhnen shows his deep understanding of his chosen materials. This combined with his supreme craftsmanship allows him to work with even the softest or most stubborn of stone. Kuhnen stresses the importance of the surface in these pieces, leaving the cut face of the material natural, while polishing up the remaining areas to create a delicate but significant contrast of surface finishes.
PAINTING IN STONE is about the artist, surface and a set of materials and an exhibition not to be missed.
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