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Tony Fomison’s Dark Shadows


Wed 22 Aug 2018, 5:00pm–6:00pm

Where: Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa, Level 5, Te Papa, 55 Cable St, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Public: $20.00 ea
  • Student: $17.00 ea
  • Member (Friends of Te Papa): $15.00 ea
  • Additional fees may apply

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Listed by: Friends of Te Papa

Join the Friends as Curator Chelsea Nichols takes a close look at a selection of Tony Fomison’s paintings of misfits, medical deformities and monstrous figures from the late 1960s-70s.

This was a particularly troubled period in the young artist’s life, and this talk will focus on how his dark and grotesque imagery explores what it is to be an outsider from society. Uncovering hidden elements of self-mythology, abnormality and art history, we will explore the riches that lurk in Fomison’s dark shadows — and why his work continues to resonate profoundly with viewers today.

The exhibition ‘Tony Fomison: Lost in the Dark‘ has been co-created with teenagers from Wellington High School. Feeling like an outsider is a familiar experience for many young people and so the students have been particularly focused on creating spaces for people to share their own responses to Fomison’s paintings.

This approach has bought the voices of younger people into the gallery and has affected how Chelsea views Fomison as an artist. “Fomison would have loved them,” she says. “They don’t fit into stereotypes, they believe that creative responses are a way to navigate the scary political and social problems in the world.”

Chelsea Nichols is an art historian whose collection-based research focuses on the relationships between international and New Zealand modern art from 1900–1970.

Her particular area of expertise is in portrayals of the curious, macabre and monstrous, and her doctoral thesis examined representations of so-called ‘human curiosities’ in international contemporary art. Current areas of research include the relationship between art and medicine in the 20th century, the influence of Surrealism on New Zealand art, and the body in modern visual culture.

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