Peter Robinson: Fieldwork

CoCA is proud to present the first solo exhibition at the gallery by Peter Robinson, now open another two weeks.

For this exhibition, Robinson is developing a new body of work that will sprawl through CoCA's galleries. Delicate sculptural forms made of everyday artist studio materials - including wood, wire, paper, metal, nails and magnets - contribute to a visual language that will unfold and repeat throughout the space.  

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Widely recognised as one of Aotearoa New Zealand's leading contemporary artists, Robinson's work has been exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Robinson also has a strong connection to the Canterbury region being of Kāi Tahu descent, born in Ashburton and as a graduate of Ilam School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury. He was New Zealand’s representative at the 49th Venice Biennale (2001), participated in the 13th Istanbul Biennale (2013), 11th and 18th Biennale of Sydney (1998/2012) and the 8th Baltic Triennale of International Art, Vilnius (2002). Robinson was nominated for the Walters Prize in 2006 for The Humours at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and again in 2008 when he won for his exhibition ACK at Artspace, Auckland.

How does one respond to the tumults of the twenty first century? Often it’s hard to know where to start. We are making histories at an unfathomable rate. If we consider that the twentieth century saw an increase in world population three times greater than during the entire previous history of humanity, the acceleration of culture makes sense. The timeframe for movements and countermovements, evolutions and revolutions has been compressed. Discourses are shared internationally, in multiplicity, ever expanding and folding in on themselves. Boundaries blur and bleed into one another. And so it is with art.

Peter Robinson is one of Aotearoa’s leading contemporary artists. Over thirty years, his practice has emerged in alignment with the accelerating trajectory of culture, as a series of iterations. Each development takes learning from the last, is deeply attuned to its political moment in time, and is imbued with Peter’s wealth of historical art knowledge.

Fieldwork is a fitting title for this exhibition. It marks a move away from bright felt forms of recent exhibitions, signalling a move toward quieter, more delicate material explorations. Objects often found in artist studios are positioned experimentally in the gallery. Diminutive arrangements of pins, nails, staples, welding rods, wire, magnets and aluminium are all asked to hold space. There are no illusions or deceptions – Peter’s hand in each work emphasises its physical nature and construction – a nod to 1960s minimalist practices and the counter movements that followed.

The intricate scale of the work hums in opposition to the demanding Brutalist Architecture, creating a subtle dissonance. Resisting. Discarding the macho-monumentality of modernist sculpture and investing instead in ambiguity and a subtle choreography of the viewer’s perspective. It’s an invitation to reconsider your relationship with this space, with viewing, with framing, and with objects. We invite you to move mindfully amongst the work, to discover unexpected perspectives and new paths through and around, as you discover the fine details in the works carefully placed on floor, walls and ceiling.


He pēhea te noho ora i ngā wero o te ao hurihuri i te rautau rua tekau mā tahi nei? Me tīmata ki whea? Ka tere haere ngā āhuatanga o te ao, ngā hītōria o te wā. Ki te wānanga tātou kei te tokomaha haere ngā tāngata i te ao nei, i whakarau toru i te rautau nei, i te tokomaha o ngā tāngata o mua, āe kātahi ka marama ki te whakahorotanga o ngā momo ahurea. Kua raungaiti te wā mō ngā hurihanga ahu ki mua me ngā hurihanga hoki whakamuri, ko te kukuwhatanga me te whananga hoki. Ka whakawhiti whakaaro ki tāwahi, ki ngā wāhi maha, ka whakawhānuihia, ā, whakahokia aua kōrero. Ka makaro, ka hūtoto ngā kōrero, ā, he ōrite tonu i te ao toi.

He manukura rongonui, he ringatoi moroki i Aotearoa a Peter Robinson. Roa atu i ngā toru tekau tau āna mahi ringatoi, kua whanake haere āna mahi kia haere tahi ki ngā tini āhuatanga o te ahurea; he rārangi mahi i ngā tau. Ko ia mahi whakawhanake kua uru mai ngā akoranga o mua, me ngā ngā mahi tōrangapū o te wā, ā, ko ngā tikanga hītōria o te mātauranga toi.

He tika te ingoa Fieldwork mō tēnei whakaaturanga. He mahi rerekē i ngā pene whītau muramura o ngā whakaaturanga ināia tata nei, e tohu ana he mahi mārire, he whakamahi i ngā papanga marore. Ka kitea ngā taputapu i ngā whare o ngā ringatoi e takoto whakamātau ana. Arā ngā pine, ngā nēra, ngā makatiti, ngā matire hono maitai, ngā waea, ngā autō, me ngā konumohe e whai wāhi ana. Kāore he tuapeka, he whakawareware rānei-ko ngā mahi ā ringa a Pita i āna mahi e tauira nui ana i ngā āhuatanga ōkiko, waihanga hoki- e tungou ana ki ngā tikanga taputapu kore o ngā ono tekau tau me ngā tikanga i whai muri mai.

Ko te āhua takawhiwhi o āna mahi he tikanga tauaro ki ngā Hoahoa Brutalist, kia paku rerekē. He mahi parenga. Ka whakarerea te hanganga nui e whāia e ngā tane i ngā mahi taraitanga moroki me te noho rangiruatanga o te mahi toi kia kanikani a karu te kaimātakitaki. He pōwhiri kia āta wānanga koe i āna mahi, kia hōpara ngā tirohanga ohorere me ngā ara hōu o roto, me ngā tino āhuatanga o āna mahi i whakatakotoria i te papa, i ngā pakitara me te tuanui.


Read our commissioned essay from Bojana Rimbovska, 'Redrawing boundaries: Fieldwork in the context of Ōtautahi' here.