kim pieters studio





Kim Pieters took a risk in titling her first survey exhibition “what is a life?” Such a portentous question is hard to address, but it turned out to be a near-perfect encapsulation of the self-examining quality of the artist’s work. Encompassing video, sound, photography, drawing, and, most of all, painting, her oeuvre comes together not so much through specific forms as via a kind of mood: a wintry, subantarctic cool that permeates everything. It’s tempting to read this in autobiographical terms: Pieters has spent most of her working life in Dunedin, New Zealand’s southernmost city of any real size. Also clear, though, is that her work is as informed by a deep engagement with a strand of European philosophy that deals with the shape of visual experience, from Bergson and Benjamin through Deleuze, as by her own life. Her videos in particular bring these two forces into conversation. The Golden Fields, 2009, for example, presents an archetypally southern New Zealand landscape-wire fences, leafless trees under glacially clear skies-in a slow-moving, nearly hour-long time-lapse. On one level, the work is like a step-by-step guide to the Deleuzian relationship between movement, image, and cinematic representation. Even so, it never feels like exegesis or finger-waving lecture. Wearing its erudition lightly, it creates the sense that Pieters is letting us see life on delay-a living pulse dimmed even more by musician Peter Wright’s accompanying droning sound track.

The rich light alluded to in The Golden Fields’s title points to Pieters’s sensitivity as a colorist, which was demonstrated time and again throughout the exhibition in her monochromatic paintings. Pieters usually deploys cool hues such as indigo, gray, and a washed-out pale green, and in the best of these works, such as those that make up the mallarmé suite, 2013, color seems to sit on the surface like chalk or even fine snow, despite having been applied in rainy washes. These ambivalent surfaces fight hard against their rough-and-ready substrates: Pieters almost always paints on old chunks of hardboard, their edges roughly snapped rather than cut. Many of the boards carry the scars of earlier lives: nail holes the artist hasn’t bothered to sand back; folds, wrinkles, and warpings where paint has pooled and turns darker. Pieters then makes small graphite doodles on them-abstract gestures that could come across as karaoke Twombly, but that in fact manage to both disrupt and anchor the paintings’ odd, scumbled fields.

Sound bleed was everywhere: It was impossible to stand in front of a painting without having the encounter contaminated by noise from a video. The constant hum acted as both a conceptual and elastic thread that bounced viewers from the paintings to the moving-image works and back again; competing soundscapes revealed Pieters’s practice as a singular whole concerned with a philosophical battle between body and mind. In an accompanying interview with writer Hamish Clayton, Pieters explains that “Deleuze especially investigates a transcendental empiricism, which makes its appearance as an experience without either consciousness or subject; this paradox particularly intrigues me.” It was a contradiction that the exhibition itself ably embodied, while also exuding a quiet appetite for risk, a total awareness of the way in which its various elements should coalesce, and a subtle understanding that philosophy presents us not just with abstract ideas, but with solid models for how to be in, and of, the world.

Anthony Byrt
October issue Art Forum International New York 2014





…An artist without guile, without compromise, she has become an entity of startling coherence: traditional in an old-fashioned way, but contemporary in ways that are outside prevailing contemporary orthodoxies.

…Non sequiturs abound with Pieters. Her interest in European tradition without direct connection to that history; the variety of passions paired with what might seem desultory or casual observation; the singular personal application as dedicated as any Paracelsus but without the accompanying alchemical nonsense; her unsentimentality. 

…Easily enough the Dutch-ness is summoned. Her discipline, the seriousness and the quasi-religious dedication, they are surely leads. We can sense an older-fashioned awareness of being, moderated with irreverent humour: not as dismissive as the children-of-excess are today, respectful even—self-mocking, perhaps.

…The proof of her cogitation is laid out on the surfaces of her drawings/paintings, like multiple and contiguous scientific experiments. This is where the real arguments lie; their benign simplicity defying categorisation as much as the complex graphics of William Blake. There is always an almost invisible line of text—often a quote or a poetic reference—along the bottom of each work, which serves as title but also as a mantra, to hold in the mind while one learns to look….On my other screen at this moment of writing, adjacent to this text, is an image of a medium-sized painting. It sat well in the window of a Dunedin gallery, hung on tongue and grooved boards, almost rhapsodic in tones, hints, and shades of blue, acting in time as well as in space. Hesitant and gravity prone, the thin emulsions shift; minute surface details hint at far-off events, in distant galaxies perhaps. Yet, the whole entity sits deadpan without illusion or allusion, a field of skilfully, knowingly balanced colours. My gaze meanders; possibilities, distant memories, and feelings emerge but never fix….The lines, the stains are so delicate, but so very deliberate; there is human frailty and decisive ambiguity; the colour irradiates. Is there ‘existential poise’? If so, then here it is . . .

…Her intelligent appraisal of form and the necessary knowledge she has accumulated towards enquiry led me, years ago, to tell her that her works were not paintings at all; that she was ‘not a painter’ solely, or even at all. Although I was being flippant at that time, and provocative, there is an element that is still true, in that her paintings are works of planar thinking alluding to time as much as space, just as her moving images are considerations of the event—or multiple events—through time….

‘Æsthetikos’, the Greek word for a ‘gasp of surprise’, which engendered the gestalt of Greenberg and others in New York in the 1950s and 1960s, is of course the semantic origin of our word ‘aesthetic’. That ‘gasp of surprise’ is elicited time and time again, in that wharf-side garret, certainly not by the picturesque environs, but by the artist’s works that have been made there. There is little more to say about their exquisite, seemingly spontaneous generation, except: ‘look and learn; slow down; consider the Lilies of the Field’, perhaps?

…she draws on poets and philosophers who she has consumed and digested over the last dozen or more years, whose words now exist as a part of her legitimate vocabulary; alongside informed opinions on her art-world heroes. It is a fine mix. Without formal instruction in such material, the meanings she distils are genuine and provide original observations, without the embarrassment of either hearsay or the impolitic correctness of second-hand knowledge. She experiences her articulation. She has always argued her identity.

extracts from ‘She was only ever what she was; and always is what she was now…
Concerning the Work of Kim Pieters’ by Carl A Mears’ read full essay here.




… Pieters utilises materials and processes to pinpoint and visualise what it means to be a sentient being. This has nothing to do with an expressive model of painting, in which the unique marks produced by the artist are thought to directly connect to an inner ‘self’. Such a model presupposes separation from the motif—autonomy—as the goal. Rather, world and artist exist as co-equal material entities, and the painting proves a non-hierarchical, indeed intimate relation between them. Pieters begins with something that exists, a material substrate, or an indexical image, and then literally works with it.

…It takes time for the work to unfold, through careful watching or deep scrutiny, and in that process we become self-conscious of our own looking, which begins as a quick scan, and then slows to a deeper kind of engagement, a mindful interrogation. For me this results in a quickening of my heartbeat, a strange agitation, as if my body has connected to the works to tell me something: that I am alive, and that the stuff of the world is deeply mysterious, yet it is also full of suggestive, pulsing beauty.

… In her hands, abstract painting is not pure; nor is the image simply visual. The waters are muddied as painting is brought into contact with words and images are overlaid with sounds. Everything is connected: paintings are conditioned by their place in a series, they are linked through language to other texts, and treated interchangeably with filmic and photographic images. Together in the space of the gallery their combined effect is synchronic, spaces between works turn loquacious. But the connections across media, sign systems, and settings do not produce a coherent whole, a total picture or closure. Pieters is more interested in the ‘clearing’, the generative arena that opens when two autonomous gestures are placed beside each other; this is a place of possibility at the interstices of different language systems.

…It is this quality of undecidability that underscores all of Pieters’ productions. By embracing the abstract in life—that which is detectable in and between things, but which cannot be named—she acknowledges the limits of language and sets out another sensual, material, way of knowing.

…Kim Pieters uses her pictorial language to posit a relation to the world, a way of being and knowing that is material and processual.

… If I stand before that multi-part painting in the corner of the long lower Chartwell Gallery, I see four green rectangles that, on closer examination, break into runs and rivulets of washed colour: pinks and blues and browns seem somehow pinned inside the green, coming forward at certain moments during the day as the light from an adjacent strip window casts its glow across their surfaces. I note, too, that there are few surface incidents, the most obvious, the one my eye is drawn to, is close in to the corner of the room, low down on the panel second from the left, where the artist has added a scumbled patch of white above a wobbly dark oval. I am warmed by the flood of colour, calmed by its lack of surface detail, reminded perhaps of the faded colours of water-stained wallpaper in a Georgian interior. But when I read the title: ‘. . .to walk horizontally along the edge of a word, blinded by sun, to forget what was seen, and what there is, and beneath heel, to gather the fiction of a hill’, I am thrown out of doors, into the landscape on a bright day, and made aware of my act of seeing, my eye ‘walking horizontally’ across the panels as I peer to see what lies on the surface. The words don’t make sense of the work, nor the work the words, but together I’m taken somewhere and made self-conscious about my thought processes. Now, not only are there colour and line, but sunlight and exertion, as I make the journey that is the painting.

…To paint now is to position oneself in a material realm that is in nodal relation to the transparency and infinite multiplicity of the image and the smooth intractability of the screen. It is a chosen practice. Painting—to paint— is not just an activity, but a mode of living consciously, an act of life.

extracts from from Christina Bartons’ ‘The Harbour Studio Years Or How to Ask the Question,‘What Is a Life?’ read full essay here




“Trust me, this will take time but there is order there, very faint, very human,” writes Michael Ondaatje in his novel, In the Skin of a Lion, as quoted in the introductory panel to Kim Pieters’ six-year survey exhibition. Of Pieters’ work I couldn’t have said it better. Yet with this exhibition such introductory words turn out to be unnecessary. Exquisitely, like a rich musk, a powerful, personal abstract beauty fills the Adam Art Gallery. Space and time have opened up her paintings, drawings, video and photography. It articulates the human breath between things. The gallery becomes a resonant chamber, within which beautifully positioned series of pieces, work as one spatial, visual and aural composition.

For this Dunedin artist, persistence and time spent on a singular journey have paid off. Pieters has previously exhibited her paintings in Wellington at Bowen Galleries, yet I’ve always struggled to engage with them. Working with the architecture and given more space here, their song in a singular language is better revealed. Pieters proves an accomplished spatial designer. Each painting is but a note in suites of works that are like colour-coded chords, themselves part of a larger orchestrated whole. It’s as if they were made in response to the space.

Pieters’ paintings are awkward at first. They reject the geometric conventions of structure we’re accustomed to within modern painting. Instead they mark out a poetry, a human line, in an ocean of worn space. As in her videos, Pieters’ paintings reveal the precious and fragile in the mundane. Intense colour fields, each panel is a mood piece on which are performed small and quiet but vigorously expressive drawn and painted creative impulses and skirmishes. Whether they look like the tracks of a worm, pools of blooms or the hatching of designs there is something primordial about these bubbling marks.

The biological fermentation of things, etched on boards weathered by time. Where other painters work with the luxuriant weave of canvas, Pieters employs thin, hard recycled wallboard. These boards have been ripped out of buildings, their edges torn or with insertions where windows and doors once have been (gaps not so different to those in the Adam’s architecture). Banged on to the wall with small, common domestic nails, their surfaces feature pockmarks where they have been ripped from their prior attachments. Soaked richly in a single colour, the industrial shifts into a human dream space, a screen upon which ghostly remnants still drift. The still and moving images both open out time and space.

Just as the paintings cross corners and break into frames, videos are projected up large across surfaces, creating different cuts and shapes across the interior. The warm industrial hum of the video’s music echoes through the chambers, as the video shimmers across surfaces and plays with shadows. The gallery doesn’t so much frame the art, as become a cavity for it to reverberate. In Pieters’ film work, time is slowed down to reveal both power and fragility. This is most easily represented by the moving image in the gallery’s window of a seagull, majestic on a bed of air but vulnerable in its constant shunting, shifting to gravity.

The Adam Art Gallery’s multiple levels and in-between spaces can be tricky to employ, but a strength is the way light, shadows and sound move between spaces. What is a life? articulates the architecture as much as the work, bringing a human blush to its hard industrial-like surfaces. Standing in the middle level feels like being on the bridge of a battleship, Pieters’ paintings well- worn plates from its sides, yet bearing the marks of a gentler energy.

This is an exhibition that extends our thinking of how painting and video might operate in space as a way of expressing emotion on the edge of our consciousness. It is transformative, contemplative spatial experience. As Ondaajte says, take the time.

Pieters’ ghosts and shadows MARK AMERY Last updated 07:18 04/06/2014
THE DETAILS what is a life? – Kim Pieters, Adam Art Gallery, Wellington until 21 September 2014.





Two extraordinarily different uses of ‘colour’ and ‘thing’ distinguish the two artists currently on show at Inge Doesburg Gallery opposite the Railway Station. The show’s title employs the classical rhetorical figure of the antimetabole (a repetition and reversal of sentential structure) IS THE COLOUR THE THING, OR IS THE THING THE COLOUR? which gestures immediately at the series of contrasts and ambivalences that set the work of Kim Pieters and Kirsten Ferguson into motion…

…Pieters’ abstract works, some on recycled board and others on paper, are muted in contrast. Delicate washes in green (and?) form gentle emotional backdrops for finer marks, squiggles, and shapes which always elude easy categorisation. Here the ‘thing’ is only ever asymptotically approached, self-consciously playing games with the je ne sais quoi at the border of perception and understanding. Pieters’ works are always accompanied by language (something Ferguson states she never does in the small catalogue accompany- ing the show). Her works always function next to language (in this case alongside Sally Ann McIntyre’s poetic works or in conjunction with allusive titles or quotations) and this parallel action of language and painting opens up a third para-site inside which a drama between the knowable and the unknowable unfolds.

In this sense, Pieters’ work can be seen in the context of a kind of post-structuralist sublime (the sublime of Lyotard rather than Jameson), a sublime that plays heavily on not so much the failures of language and conceptualisation but their eternal deferral. We are invited to play meaning games inside sensual and emotive spaces given to us along one axis by a painterly exploitation of colour and form in the service of affect and on the other by the allusive an elusive poetics of language…

PIETER HAYDENSIECK point Issue #4       14-20.nov.2012. zealand.
the colour and the thing






Anthony Byrt characterises Kim Pieters’ work as possessing a feeling of “wintry, subantarctic cool.” This description suggests the chill environs of the artist’s home in Dunedin, but is also representative of a more studied, intellectual coolness: a willingness to engage with ambivalence and to investigate the potentialities of paradox, uncertainty and, above all, chance.

In the Mallarmé Suite, large hardboard panels salvaged from a building site form the basis for delicate fields of colour, their ragged edges and holes speaking of a previous existence as parts of an architectural whole. Pieters is an artist who works primarily in series, creating groupings of works that function together to elaborate on a particular theme, mood or approach. Language plays an important role in this methodology, as does its absence or failure.

With the Mallarmé Suite, Pieters undertakes a meditation on the poet’s most difficult and arguably most important work: Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard, first published in 1897, a year before Mallarmé’s death in 1898. This poem—in English, A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance—describes the conflict between being and nothingness, as it relates to art’s ability to engage with the universe. Mallarmé’s poem describes the plight of a mariner-artist, the “Master,” rolling dice in the midst of a “shipwreck on the shoals of meaninglessness or contingency,” in the words of Henry Weinfield’s commentary. More generally, Weinfield sees the poem as addressing the problem of “how to establish meaning in an essentially meaningless universe,” a dilemma towards which Pieters, by invoking Mallarmé, also gestures.

Although it is tempting to view these paintings as flotsam and jetsam that has been, at least in part, uncovered or stumbled upon rather than created, the randomness embodied by the found panels themselves is merely a starting point. For Pieters, these found materials serve as “a throw of the dice,” a raw act of chance from which new meanings can be generated. The choices the artist makes, in the face of a phenomenal universe functioning seemingly at random, become her necessity, and become the foundation upon which meaning can be built and understood.

One of the more radical departures from nineteenth-century lyric practice in Un Coup de Dés is its form. The poem’s individual lines and phrases are unevenly dispersed over double-page spreads, which are intended to be read from left to right across the two leaves. Because of this unorthodox typesetting, the white of the paper itself assumes a vital role in organising and framing the reader’s response to the poem. Although, as Mallarmé himself notes in his preface, “versification always demanded them as a surrounding silence,” the way Un Coup de Dés deploys these empty spaces constitutes a radical emphasis on the physicality of the page itself.

Pieters is likewise concerned with physicality and presence in her work, citing Yoshihara Jiro’s Gutai Art Manifesto, which speaks of the beauty of art and architecture that has succumbed to decay and entropy: “it may be that the innate beauty of matter is reemerging from behind the mask of artificial embellishment. Ruins unexpectedly welcome us with warmth and friendliness.” The paintings of the Mallarmé Suite are beautiful in this way: they speak of that which is abandoned, of the interstitial spaces of the city where the remains of physical culture pile up and are forgotten. Ignaci de Solà-Morales defines these spaces as the “terrain vague,” the empty or unproductive zones existing within the urban environment that constitute a kind of counter-city. However, these paintings are not themselves unproductive; they are working to reclaim the terrain vague, to allow the viewer to navigate these spaces in a way that is productive of meaning.

Although Pieters cites Mallarmé through the titles of her works, her paintings advance a position that does not necessarily align with that of the poet himself. In an interview with Hamish Clayton, Pieters suggests that Mallarmé “did a sorrowful thing in opposing chance and necessity” in Un Coup de Dés. Rather than adopting an oppositional approach, Pieters’ works “fuse the two” concepts, making “chance and necessity work together.” Unlike Mallarmé, who laments the loss of a higher order (such as God or Fate) that would ascribe meaning to the events of the phenomenal universe (the rolling dice), Pieters deals with the world as it is, creating ideas and meanings that can coexist with chance itself. These paintings are not a lament for an ordered universe that no longer exists (and perhaps never existed), but neither are they an affirmation of the supremacy of chaos. They are a negotiation, an act that seeks to transform the materials of raw chance into something useful to the world. Pieters is, in some sense, a pragmatist.

This negotiation between chance and necessity, between randomness and meaning, is consequential not only for the artist herself, but also for the viewer of these works. According to Pieters, “the viewer is confronted with a throw of a dice. The meaning any one person may make of it is the result of their choices, is contingent on what is necessary for them at any one time.” Pieters’ inquiry, into the relationship between that which is the product of chance and that which is the product of necessity, is not limited to a dialogue between the artist and the universe: it includes us too, and the possibilities and options that are open to us.

Andrew Clark:  Bowerbank Ninow Gallery
re:Kim Pieters’the mallarmé suite’   Oct. 26 – Nov. 19, 2016




John thank you for your review. Apologies about my delayed reply, I have been travelling south to the sun! I was most curious about your experience with my titles. For me, the relationship between language and image is an important, if not exclusive aspect of my work, so your response was a little unfortunate; but perhaps one that I need to consider.

The titles never illustrate the image, they are never analogous, they are always supplement: evocative, often poetic, as you say, sentences, lines of language or quotes taken from their original context and relocated (very small I have to say, along the lower edge of my painting or drawing. They actually do not have to be engaged with and often they are not). However by making the placement I am presenting two autonomous moments, one literary and one visual. It is what happens at their junction which interests me a great deal. What may then come into being.

I am always looking for the generation of something new in that gap. Something that cannot entirely rely on what can be identified: the work is not a named representation, it has no end. The disjunction between language and image is purposeful; it can be a type of shock or intrigue. The space that is offered here, almost a type of clearing, asks for sensibility and thinking to be put into play. It is a call to the individual who pays attention, to generate meaning for themselves, from their own sensitivities and knowledges and in their own way.

The work in this perspective acts as an impetus, an initiator of moments. Of course I cannot answer for what is found, sometimes obviously it will be unpromising. I am happy to take that risk, for more often something else happens; something rich and sensate and thoughtful. This may provide discussion amongst friends; it could be an entirely private experience. It can be repeatable and ongoing, reconsidered, rethought, felt differently at different times, a bit like the things of life. It is a world.

May I refer you and anybody interested to the Hamish Clayton writing on my work in Art New Zealand’s autumn2011 edition. This is a close and considered reading which I like very much. There is also a beautiful discussion about titles by Roland Barthes in his ‘The Wisdom of Art’ essay on Cy Twombly of which I am entirely in sympathy with. Gosh, it is such elegant, informative writing I will quote the piece in full for you. All best Kim (kfpieters august2012)“


..The paintings function like a pictograph, where figurative and graphic elements are combined. This system is very clear, and although it is quite exceptional in Twombly’s work, its very clarity refers us to the joint problems of figuration and signification. Although abstract painting (which bears an inaccurate name, as we know) has been in the making for a long time (since the later Cezanne, according to some people),each new artist endlessly debates the question again: in art, linguistic problems are never really settled, and language always turns back to reflect on itself. It is therefore never naive (in spite of the intimidation of culture, and above all of specialist culture) to ask oneself before a painting what it represents. Meaning sticks to man: even when he wants to create something against meaning or outside it, he ends up producing the very meaning of nonsense or non-meaning. It is all the more legitimate to tackle again and again the question of meaning, that it is precisely this question which prevents the universality of painting. If so many people (because of cultural differences) have the impression of “not understanding” a painting, it is because they want meaning and this painting (or so they think) does not give them any.

Twombly squarely tackles the problem, if only in this, that most of his paintings bear titles. By the very fact that they have a title, they proffer the bait of a meaning to mankind, which is thirsting for one. For in classical painting the caption of a picture (this thin line of words which runs at the bottom of the work and on which the visitors of a museum first hurl themselves) clearly expressed what the picture represented; analogy in the picture was reduplicated by analogy in the title: the signification was supposed to be exhaustive and the figuration exhausted. Now it is not possible, when one sees a painting by Twombly bearing a title, not to have the embryonic reflex of looking for analogy. The Italians? Sahara? Where are the Italians? Where is the Sahara? Let’s look for them. Of course, we find nothing. Or at least – and here begins Twombly’s art – what we find – namely the painting itself, the Event, in its splendor and enigmatic quality – is ambiguous: nothing “represents” the Italians, the Sahara, there is no analogical figure of these referents; and yet, we vaguely feel, there is nothing, in these paintings, which contradicts a certain natural idea of the Sahara, the Italians. In other words, the spectator has an intimation of another logic (his way of looking is beginning to operate transformations): although it is very obscure, the painting has a proper solution, what happens in it conforms to a telos, a certain end.

This end is not found immediately. At first stage, the title so to speak bars the access to the painting because by its precision, its intelligibility, its classicism (nothing strange or surrealist about it), it carries us on the analogical road, which very quickly turns out to be blocked. Twombly’s titles have the function of a maze having followed the idea which they suggest, we have to retrace our steps and start in another direction. Something remains, however, their ghosts which pervade the painting. They constitute the negative moment which is found in all initiations. This is art according to a rare formula, at once very intellectual and very sensitive, which constantly confronts negativity in the manner of those schools of mysticism called “apophatic” (negative) because they teach one to examine all that which is not-so as to perceive, in this absence, a faint light, flickering but also radiant because it does not lie….”

kfpieters response toJohn Hurrell —eyecontact review
21 July 2012  Sensual Painting Show at Artspace.
Kim Pieters and Anoushka Akel.    ‘Hop Scotch’  Curated by Caterina Riva 13 July – 18 August 2012. ARTSPACE.AucklandNZ.





As Pieters writes, “in this work the two modes continuously weave into and away from each other, allowing each their autonomy without denying relation.” The resulting viewing/listening experience is one that roots the eye in the body, emphasizing bodily immersion, drift, and reverie. Veering away both from Cartesian perspectivalism and representative/narrative tradition, as installed works in a gallery context, they both extend and unravel cinematic codes, the optical space becomes a place of transformation, the holistic experiential space which Deleuze refers to when he writes “…it is through the body that cinema forms its alliance with the spirit, with thought.” In these works, Pieters extends the thoughtful and responsive relation with musicians she has worked with in live contexts, by editing visual footage to sound provided by invited practitioners, in her methodology the image is treated as malleable, stretchable material, to be cut to size, slowed to a treacle-like pace, fine-sifted for detail. The long-take is pulled to infinity alongside desolate, beautiful guitar drones and electronic soundscapes are set deep into the distance of south island horizons.

Sally Ann McIntyre a New Zealand based writer, curator, broadcaster and radio artist with a curatorial interest in the intersection of art and sound.





…Kim Pieters’ paintings encode memory in a different way. The board on which she paints suggests the walls of vacated rooms, scarred by human habitation. Le mal d’archive might be seen, then, as a reflection on our obsessive desire to retain information, to read the traces of history with certainty and make them visible. It also reflects on the impossibility of total recall, and our futile attempts to freeze time in collections and archives. The marks and blurs in the surface may be dust, marking an attention to the kind of details that are found in the seldom-visited corners of libraries. If there are stories to be found in these surfaces, they do not, to use Jean Baudrillard’s phrase, ‘have a day after; they are made to be used up’. Each new viewing yields a new story…

…In all of these painted spaces, the certainties of the ‘real’ —of the found board surfaces on which Pieters paints, of the seemingly solid landscapes in which Crook and Pick stage their dramas–are destabilised by drifts of memories and associations, patterns and dreams. The works have an evanescence, a quality of shimmering. No sooner have stories and meanings appeared than they are swept away by our next glance. The exhibition explores the hesitation and uncertainty of the partially spoken thought. Half-whispers pervade. Pieters explores this poetics of absence and silence in ‘the lover who does not forget sometimes dies of excess, exhaustion and tension of memory.’ Across the multiple panels there is unexpected movement. Shapes emerge and travel. Within this continual flux, meaning and knowing become difficult terms to grasp. The ‘lover’ might be the artist, the viewer, or a body evoked by Pieters’ ambiguous markings. There is nothing superficial to this surface. Trajectories can be traced without a need for their source, and our desires become the subject of the work…

…Each painting becomes a time-zone, slowing the act of looking to a distinctive pace. Some works clamour for attention, while others wait their turn. Kim Pieters’ nasturtium is the miniature made large. Colour is spread and amplified across metres of softly scarred board. This chromatic field engulfs for a second before focus shifts and it fades to nothing. Almost invisible in its detail, nasturtium raises the question whether colour is ever meant to be viewed on this scale. The painting discloses a process of simultaneous expansion and evaporation. Flickering between tiny lyrical events and an immersive vapour of colour, it becomes both a single flower and an entire summer…

Susan Ballard, from ‘perfume’, catalogue to the ‘beyond the surface’ exhibition.
Beyond the surface was exhibited at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery from 21 April until 26 June 2001 and
at the Hawkes Bay Museum August until October 2001.



“Kim Pieter’s roughly joined pinkish panels combine something of Thom’s insouciant aesthetic, Leigh’s attention to wayward graphic and painterly traces and Rae’s allusion to bodily presence. The conjunction of the traditionally girly pink with the damaged surface embodies a type of violence to the self and an aggressive refusal to present an immaculate, cleaned up image to the world. The overall shifts in tone and texture and tiny, almost secretive graffiti allude to the tinting and overpaintings of cosmetics and the protected privacy of intimate histories. Pieters’ receptive surfaces register bruising and staining; the sullied body. They also open up to a buoyant and ethereal space in which a fragile body could float supported on clouds of colour.”Allan Smith reviewing ‘Skirting Abstraction’ show Govett- Brewster. Art New Zealand, Autumn 1997.

“Where for heaven’s sake, are the artists’ eyes? Or the judges’ for that matter? The theme for the exhibition could be “sightless” so meekly do the works call to our visual sense, with the exception of Kim Pieters’ svelte , engaging ‘Smoke in Your Mouth’, and Simon McIntyre’s ‘Screen’. These and parts of Gerda Leenards Waterways are the most lucid works here… Keith Stewart reviewing the 96 Visa Gold. Sunday Star Times September 1996.





“Kim Pieters and Michael Morley both have a consistent grasp of gestural opportunity, which fits, in whatever arcane way, into my notion of what a painting should be. Lines suggest, delineate, don’t end too soon, don’t overstate. Spaces advance, retreat, offer expansion, don’’t lose it in vacuity. Kim Pieter’s scribbled insignia suggest codings of language and body alike, in a congruence of experience that denies dualities.”  Bridie Lonie reviewing ‘Blue Blood’, Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Art New Zealand, Summer 1994.

Kim Pieter’s lyrical and speculative drawing in particular is well worth studying. The line seems most intimate in her three small works, but two huge ones hung side by side upstairs on a wall painted imperial purple (or is it suffrage violet?) dispel dismissal of this as decorative doodling, and invite contemplation. Linda Tyler review ‘Blue Blood’ show, Dunedin Public Art Gallery. ODT 1994.

Motivations of illusion and dream fill the paintings of Kim Pieters; the spaces between her lines take on the velocities of the vacuum. The line itself expresses something nearing the modulations of music as it traces a path through the image.”  Susan Ballard reviewing ‘Dunedin Dialogues’ Milford House. ODT August 1995.




It was dark, wine-dark one might say, and as clouded as mind inevitably is, awoken, though, by the attraction of the bottles of some ‘classic red’ and the promise of time to pass…..I like the BOG, and most especially, I like it in its abbreviated or (perhaps) its inebriated form; it seems always to promise something sticky (like Peter Madden’s gooey little public toilet find we all had the pleasure of almost tasting in the paper anniversary exhibition a few months back – I must say that one will never leave me). I always wonder what delectable treasures will be dredged up and, after all, a few glasses of dirty red down early evening’s path is often the perfect accoutrement to ones own BOG journey…. the first wall, at least, was dark.

It was all a little disorienting until I located the refreshment table which contrary to my expectations was not conveniently located at the door but to draw the crowds in (one might speculate), was in the centre of the room attended by an ‘angelic’ waiter in a cuff-linkless shirt, a halo of milling onlookers who, I should think, were also a little disorientated by the daring table placement, and to keep their balance, centred attention upon that most beautiful of sights attending to the refreshments. A little invitation to ‘Shimidsu Sakura’, like some exotic butterfly fluttering its way through the postal service and into my tenuous consciousness, had drawn me to the Caroline McCaw/Kim Pieters exhibition, and to the wondrous sight of that ‘waiter’ whom I’m sure, were he not dead and in Limbo like the rest of us, God would have blessed with the immaculate conception of the new Messiah. Can we not picture it? It is such a thought, such a deserving thought, which could almost justify the unjustifiable; it leaves me at least with a certain sense of well-being and hope…

In limbo, of course, although denied the vision of God proper, we are blessed or cursed as the case may be with such hypothetical visions of hope – of an exotic if unobtainable elsewhere – and where indeed would be more appropriate that the BOG to have such a glorious confirmation of this. Shimidsu Sakura was, likewise, the perfect setting. After orienting myself firmly with a drink in my hand and marvelling at the golden light of the ‘Madonna of the red wine’ I looked fixedly about ‘to discern the place where I was’ My eye was drawn into the cloudy darkness which had flickered through my first impression upon entry, and into which my severally filled glass would eventually leave me – the wine-dark work on the wall opposite the door. It was looking toward this that I realised the gravity of the BOG and McCaw and Pieters’ winter fruit, behind the ambiguity of the coppery hues (one could almost see oneself on the surface of the metallic paint and wondering if it too will corrode into a fungal green) was the dark coarse texture of building paper with which, perhaps, winter builds her products in the new subdivision down the “woeful valley of the abyss” -or early evening’s path.

Of course, from limbo’s cusp, there is always another border and BOG too has several walls. Rotating around the centrepiece my vision came to the gate where hope may fly. Confronted with the pastels of thousands of little postage stamps, blossom-petals on the stringy boughs of the cherry-tree or in small piled on the floor or again, in great sheets ($109.20 a set), inscribed with the murmurings of one barely awake and dazzled by glistening white (for example), all of springs hearkening to life temporarily outstaging the darkness of winter, and promising a sending on, a posting to summer (?) or to the fringe festival perhaps, a ‘line of flight’.

I knew, however (how could I not with ‘classic red’ in hand?) that this was a strange hearkening, one that pointed everywhere but to itself. The waiter’s halo mumbling down its several paths looked, as is the prerogative of those of us in Limbo, not at the present, but to an elsewhere. Most of the talk was, of course, of the fringe festival and its rich promisings, the McCaw/Pieters exhibition taking an inevitably secondary role as a precursor on the cusp of the festivities. Limbo’s ambiguity (like this week’s f*nk straddling the before and the during of an extravaganza, a literal circus, of the arts) gives rise to those spectacular visions: ‘Madonna of the red wine’ and the most lavish of events that begins this Friday -the ‘Fringe Festival’ in all its glory.

Rise erect, then, and look toward your Festival Program, perhaps you too will be blessed with the sight of that ‘angelic’ waiter!

Gilbert May reviewing ‘Shimidsu Sakura”, f*nk, Dunedin September 2000.