Ronnie van Hout’s dark sci-fi at Buxton Contemporary

In Melbourne, a scenographic survey is dedicated to real obscure characters, moulded by the New Zealand-born artist.

"Ronnie van Hout, No one is watching you", exhibition view, Buxton Contemporary, 2018

Over 2,200 square metres in size, Buxton Contemporary emerges as a squared, graceful spaceship, near Australian Ballet Centre and beside the huge Botanical Garden in Melbourne. Opened on 12 July, the “No one is watching you” is a solo show by Melbourne-based New Zealand-born artist Ronnie van Hout. It is the first survey exhibition featuring an artist from the Michael Buxton Collection, bringing together over twenty works. The exhibition encompasses sculpture, video, photography, embroidery and text, and features major new installations. This sarcastic titled art-path shines a focus on the artist best known for his paranoid dioramas of existential absurdism, bringing together works that span more than thirty years of practice.

Located within Melbourne’s Southbank arts precinct and embedded at the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Buxton Contemporary provides a home and broad cultural context for the extraordinary art collection of Melbourne property developer and passionate art collector Michael Buxton. A major feature is the museum entrance, which is flanked by one of the largest digital screens in Australia, showcasing a constantly changing collection of digital and video works from the Michael Buxton Collection, which acquires significant works of art leading and influential Australian artists.

Van Hout’s figures absorb imageries from pop culture, presenting peculiar everymen and wicked self-portraits. The latter appear to theatrically seize the artistic limelight while at the same time attempting to elude its searching glare. Van Hout’s practice deliberately blurs the boundaries between self and other, artist and audience, tragedy and farce, at once humorously and poignantly exploring powerful sensations of the contemporary human condition.

For the past twenty years, Melbourne based, New Zealand-born artist Ronnie van Hout’s distinctive tragicomic characters have simultaneously unsettled and beguiled audiences. Aliens, failed robots, fragile, lonely figures in the midst of perplexing scenarios, Van Hout masterfully evokes familiar and yet strange interior worlds, unleashing deep social anxieties, feelings of self-consciousness, and the impulse to both laugh and cry. Key works such as Ersatz (Alien) 2003, BED/SIT 2008 (from the National Gallery of Victoria Collection), and Sick child 2 2016 were included, as well as two new projects and works in sculpture, video, embroidery and text. Ronnie van Hout is best known for his distinctive imprinting voted to mould an obscure realms of reality. His tragicomic oeuvre references a wide range of sources, from science fiction, cults and cinema to art history and popular and celebrity culture. He frequently draws upon childhood experiences and recollections to create wryly amusing yet heart-rending micro fictions.

Exhibition title:
Ronnie van Hout, No one is watching you
Opening dates:
until 21 October 2018
Curated by:
Melissa Keys
Buxton Contemporary – University of Melbourne Southbank Boulevard Victoria

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