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Tue 2 Sep 2008–Tue 16 Sep 2008, 6:00pm–8:00pm

Where: SOCA Gallery, 74 France St, Newton

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Listed by: anatongue

On 2 September, South Island-based artist Donna Demente returns to have her second solo exhibition at Auckland’s SOCA gallery at 74 France Street, Newton.

Since moving to Oamaru from Auckland over ten years ago, Demente has exhibited in a number of major galleries and museums in the South Island and Australia. Commissioned in 2001 to create works for Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, it seems that Auckland audiences have only been given glimpses of Demente’s work, until she started exhibiting two years ago with SOCA gallery.

Her artistic practice is characterised by appropriating old masters’ paintings and using them to create new meanings and messages. Known especially for her extremely close up portraiture with an emphasis on the eyes, Demente works across many disciplines.

In her 2008 solo show, Demente will be focusing on the art of masks and masquerade – the visual lore from which she often draws her inspiration. This time, in addition to paintings, the audience will have a unique opportunity to see some of her exquisite masks and painted ostrich eggs.

The upcoming exhibition at SOCA gallery will exemplify more than ever the extraordinary position that Demente’s art practice occupies – a practice that sits between painting and theatre.

From her grand Wearable Arts Awards’ projects to stage sets and paintings, all her work is highly playful and probing. Demente rebels against the prevailing dark mindset in New Zealand art and concentrates instead on bringing the exotic, luxurious and sensual back into art.

As the chief organiser of Oamaru’s annual mask festival, Demente has been instrumental in putting Oamaru on the cultural map of the South Island. In the early 1990’s Demente won three awards from the prestigious Wearable Art Awards and was subsequently included on the judging panel. She also plays a major part in the Queenstown Winter Festival Mardi Gras Parade and has initiated the Whitestone Artists’ Collective and Grainstone Gallery, where she runs art classes and events.

Curator Peter Entwisle writes on Demente: ' . . . she addresses fundamental issues in new ways, celebrating death as a natural part of life, making masks to reveal instead of disguise, making the romantic grotesque, the grotesque sensual, and often painting eyes . . . reversing the usual roles in art, [and] surprising us by enquiring, who is really under inspection?’

Donna Demente will be exhibiting at SOCA Gallery, 74 France St, Newton, from 2 September until 16 September, 2008. The show will open on Tuesday 2 September from 6.00pm with a special masquerade event to honour the artist, who will be in attendance.

So don your mask, forget who you are or better still pretend you are someone else, and come along for Donna Demente’s ‘Spring Masquerade’ at SOCA gallery.

For all inquiries or to register interest, please contact SOCA gallery.

Restaurants to book near Spring Masquerade Exhibition: Donna Demente