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Erica Van Zon


Making as re-making…

Playful and effervescent, the cunning objects and bewildering scenarios created by Erica van Zon pop and dazzle. Ceramic animals including crooked tigers, pink and purple cats, smudged and raucous cockatoos march across sherbet-coloured shelves. Gaudy Chinese fringing and plastic charms hang from walls, rooms are lit up with home-made studio lights, sound-proofed with egg-cartons and filmed with a cardboard camera. Floors are littered with rugs whose designs have been taken from dark and serious modernist painting. Blue and white Delftware is homemade and off-balance, Dutch proverbs flash in neon lights and rooms are papered with old film posters.

From neon signs to crochet-hook rugs, vampy performances to ceramics to calligraphic posters, Van Zon turns to one medium, then another. Predominantly an installation artist she creates certain kinds of rooms or milieux, ones that feature either very simple objects or ones constructed from quite mundane or hobbyist materials. Film posters are re-created earnestly with wonky, hand-painted outlines and vivid colours until the paper is wrinkled and heavy with paint. An honesty and clumsiness in making prevails: high-art masterpieces are rendered crooked and inexact designs on a woollen rug, ancient artefacts and remembered ornaments are re-made in modelling material and painted ceramics.

Often the gallery is self-consciously dressed like a film set with furniture or objects staged and crafted from whatever might create the desired effect: colourful custom-made plinths, fringed fibres, hessian sacks, materials used to make stuffed animals, painted cardboard, paper, modelling material, acrylic, enamel, gouache, plastic charms, even nail polish on linen. Drawing attention to lighting, staginess and artifice, sometimes Van Zon’s mode of display brings to mind a coffee-table, at other times it may resemble the properties table of a studio film set or amateur theatre production. There are always lurid colours, imperfect surfaces, crooked lines and cheeky copies.

Putting on a show, Van Zon takes the familiar or the recognisable and renders it slightly funny and wrong. Her loving parodies and crooked translations are tenderly made and although awkward her appropriations are always studied and thoughtful. Examining shared visual cultures with nostalgia as well as a sense of the ridiculous,

Van Zon creates little touching tributes, quiet homages that are striking, imperfect and delightful.


Erica van Zon (b. 1979) currently lives and works in Wellington. Since completing her Masters at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 2008 she has exhibited in artist-run spaces, private galleries and public institutions both nationally and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include: Murky Water, Murky Horizons (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2015), Dogwood Days (Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2013-2014); The Light on the Dock (City Gallery, Wellington, 2013-2014), Moving Forward (Rm, Auckland, 2012) and Prismatic Time (City Gallery, Wellington, 2011). She has also exhibited within curated exhibitions and group shows such as: Visiting Asia (Te Tuhi, Pakuranga, 2015), The Quiet Earth (RAMP Gallery, Hamilton, 2015) and Slip Cast (Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, 2014). Currently the Tylee Cottage artist in residence in Whanganui, van Zon has received significant recognition for her work. In 2014 she was artist in residence at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, in 2011 she participated in an Asia NZ residency at Red Gate in Beijing and in 2007 she won the inaugural Iris Fisher scholarship at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts. In late 2016 the Dowse Art Museum will host a solo exhibition of work by Van Zon.

For additional information and a complete CV please contact the gallery.