On the World Stage: Richard Maloy

With modest wit, Richard Maloy’s work subtly engages the parameters of art making today

Words: Paris Lettau

Photography: Kallan Macleod

New Zealand artist Richard Maloy belongs to a generation who, graduating from art school in the late 1990s, were compelled to find a new artistic language through their inheritance of the competing legacies of the 1960s and 1970s: minimalism, process art, performance art and conceptualism.

Like minimalism, Maloy’s practice is attuned to the politics of space and time. With modest wit, his work subtly engages the parameters of art making today, be it the museum space (as seen in his large scale cardboard construction works, Raw Attempts, 2009 and Yellow Structure, ongoing), the gallery collector system (Tree Hut, 2004), the art school system of the MFA generation (Attempts, ongoing), or the very mechanics of becoming an artist (All the things I did, 2013). His work is usually lo-fi and DIY, often made from monochromatic cardboard and local scrap materials (his first Tree Hut was built from scraps at his parent’s home and his latest from Waiheke Island near Auckland).

Like performance art, Maloy’s work usually has a post-object status, where the “art” does not reside in the various objects and ephemera, but in the contextual meaning and memory formed through each viewer’s engagement with a work.

The destination of Maloy’s art is therefore not so much the gallery wall but, one might say, the ‘world.’ That is, it is a practice that calls for continual re-performance—or rather, re-staging—in new contexts, each re-iteration transforming the work as a whole. Recently, this has seen Maloy stage his work in new international settings.

An iteration of Maloy’s architectural cardboard installation, Yellow Structure, was presented in the curated section of Art Basel Hong Kong 2016, a version of which previously dwelt in the cavernous Queensland Art Gallery at the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial in 2012.

Maloy’s international presence will continue to grow in 2017. In January, he begins a clay sculptural project that will evolve over the duration of the outdoor sculpture show Headland Sculpture on the Gulf on Waiheke Island. In the same month, Maloy enters ‘LA cool’ at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary with Starkwhite Gallery, where he will exhibit a new iteration of his Baldessari-esque plastic bag portrait series, first started as a student in the late 1990s. Mid-year he will undertake a three-month residency at Youkobo Art Space, Tokyo, Japan, a hub for international cross-cultural engagement.

The growing critical reception of Maloy’s practice is seeing him emerge as one of New Zealand’s leading international cultural practitioners.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 79, JAN – MAR 2017. 

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