06 Mar Curatorial Conversation with sculptor Gidon Bing
ARTIST GIDON BING HAS TRAVELLED MANY ROADS TO GET TO THIS PLACE – along the highways of corporate mergers and acquisitions, to the winding back streets of furniture making and design, to the dirt and gravel of archaeology, and enlightened paths of religious history and anthropology. His journey began early thanks to his parents and grandparents who surrounded him with art history, traditional crafts, diverse cultural interests and exposure and, in particular, architecture (his grandfather was Czech architect Henry Kulka, a student and then partner of Czech Avant Garde architect, Adolf Loos). Since then, Gidon has forged his own route, gathering skills imparted by European master craftspeople, a reverence for tradition, a love and respect of materiality, a Modernist aesthetic and continued interest in Pacific and Oceanic aesthetics surrounding his native New Zealand. Here the artist speaks to us from his Auckland studio about what inspires him, while photographer Gareth Cooke captured the artist in his space.
Where do you live?
I live near the coast in central Auckland with my ceramics/plaster studio in the basement and a second sculpture studio five minutes away in a boatshed.
What is your favourite thing to do in your city?
Auckland has a bunch of great weekend markets with some of the best produce and some pretty good second hand finds.
Who or what inspires you?
All sorts of things – from material properties and process, literature, architecture, biology, my wife and children’s drawings.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I don’t really seek it out. Instead, I play with the medium until something is discovered or revealed, which is often the best and most effortless way to arrive at those elusive and serendipitous moments where you produce something unified and simple.
Describe your studio in three words.
Perpetually evolving chaos.
What do you love about being an artist?
People’s enthusiasm for the means and ends of creativity; the joy of working with fine materials; the knowledge that what I make has a life beyond my studio and the opportunity to collaborate and learn.
What are its challenges?
I’m not sure that its challenges are greatly different from most endeavours. A big challenge for me is containing and limiting the mediums I work with as I tend to become fascinated by a new medium/process/material and are not satisfied until I have achieved some degree of mastery over it.
What do you hope people feel/think/see when they see you work?
That the objects express an essential simplicity and beauty that appeals to something deeper than transitory aesthetics.
Describe your morning routine.
Children, chaos, coffee!
What do you love doing in your downtime?
How would you describe your work?
Bold, reductive, expressive.
Did you always want to be an artist?
I’m not sure I ever consciously wanted to be an artist, but I have always found great pleasure in the compulsion to create.
I tend to become fascinated by a new medium/process/material and are not satisfied until I have achieved some degree of mastery over it.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
This morning I had an epic process failure, liquid plaster everywhere – contaminating my cellulose fiber – out of this came an interesting discovery. I am now conducting a few tests for a new recipe for fast drying moulds.
What jobs have you done other than creating art?
Corporate mergers, acquisitions and investment, landscaping, archaeology, product and furniture design and fabrication.
Do you have a favourite song?
My 5-year-old daughter’s toilet song!
Favourite place on Earth and why?
Tel Aviv. It has the best climate, best food, best architecture, best bookshops.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
To seek out and learn from those who have mastery and depth of traditional knowledge.
Advice you’d like to pass along to new artists?
Not sure I’m in a position to be offering advice! But if pressed I’d say maintaining both a reverence for tradition together with a healthy scepticism for expert opinion.
Future dream project?
Architectural design for a modest mountain house.
All photography by Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images, commissioned by Curatorial+Co.