Sanderson presents Sathu, an exhibition of works by emerging artist Daniel Kerr.
In his text Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912) Kandinsky wrote: “The various arts are drawing together. They are finding in music the best teacher.”
Kandinsky believed that music could uncover a pathway to a new artform; an art that relinquished the physical appearances of things, in favour of a more enigmatic and other worldly reality.
Kerr was born in Tāmaki Makaurau to a Thai mother and Scottish Pākehā father. The artist trained in musical composition, acoustics and audio engineering when he was younger. After major events took place in his life in 2017, including the loss of a close friend, Kerr turned to painting as a source of solace and reflection.
Kerr discusses how his background in musical composition plays a vital role in his art making. As well as acknowledging New Zealand abstract artists Ralph Hotere and Gretchen Albrecht as pivotal influences on his practice, the artist notes the painters Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky: two artists whose practices were inspired by the freedom and rhythm of music.
Just as Pollock submerged himself in the energy and tempo of free-form jazz; Kerr engrosses himself in different genres of music while working. The artist discusses listening to pop and folk music while priming his canvas’ in gesso, and then moves onto classical symphonies including Chopin’s Nocturnes and Mozart’s piano concertos, while working over the canvas with charcoal and acrylics.
The artist builds up the texture and layers on his canvas’ with gels and thickness of paint, while listening to the intonations in each opus. Sometimes he moves quickly and ferociously, whilst at other times he remains in a quiet and contemplative state. In the final stages of completing his works the artist works in complete silence.
Kerr doesn’t work on preliminary sketches for his pieces, nor does he have a plan in mind before beginning to work on the canvas. Rather, memories come to him while working, which conjure a range of emotions that inspire his movement and application of his brushstrokes.
Attributing his mother’s devout Buddhism to inspiring a spiritual path in his own life, Kerr believes this influence also manifests in his work. The artist grew up visiting Thailand regularly and was ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of twenty-five, around the time of his grandfather’s passing.
The exhibition title ‘Sathu’ is a Sanskrit word, which most simple translation is ‘Amen’. However, the artist discusses how the word has a more nuanced and deeper meaning and can best be understood as ‘to wish upon a better life’.
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