ArtJunk
No. 25—2024

Survey: 1956–2022

Susan Te Kahurangi King

Info: Susan Te Kahurangi King’s drawings reveal a surprising formal intelligence. Ruttkowski;68 presents her first European survey show. King was born in New Zealand in 1951. In early childhood, her powers of speech declined, then dried up. She began drawing, compulsively. Her drawings incorporate things she saw and experienced: comicbook characters, animals, logos, landmarks and household items. Some suggest debauched parties, some suggest hellish hospital scenes. In others, she deconstructs and dissolves her figures into hypnotic psychedelic patterns. In the 1980s, King’s drawings become more abstract. Cellular forms accumulate to suggest massive landscapes viewed from on high, or tiny ones glimpsed through a microscope. Images are incorporated, sometimes explicitly, sometimes concealed. In the early 1990s, she ceased drawing completely, only to resume in 2008, picking up exactly where she had left off, almost twenty years earlier. King is celebrated in outsider-art and contemporary-art scenes, with shows the world over, rave reviews from Jerry Saltz, and works acquired by the Museum of Modern Art. While produced in isolation, her drawings resonate with the works of canonical artists, like Philip Guston and Peter Saul. Although we can enter King’s world through her drawings, we can only speculate on her intentions.

Ruttkowski;68 Susan Te Kahurangi King ArtJunk