Simryn Gill: Works on Paper
10 May – 1 July 2018
Opening reception on Wednesday, 9 May at 6–8pm. Artist talk with Simryn Gill and exhibition curator Anders Kreuger before the opening at 5–6pm. Welcome!
Simryn Gill (born in 1959 in Singapore) lives in Sydney, Australia, and Port Dickson, Malaysia. Audiences in Finland will remember her two exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma: her solo presentation, in 1998, of the work Self-Seeds (now in the Kiasma collection) and her participation in the group exhibition ‘Six Routes to the Himalayas’ in 2000.
More recently, she has shown her work at Lunds konsthall, Sweden, in 2017, Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, Belgium, in 2016, NTU CCA Singapore in 2015, the Venice Biennale (as the Australian representative) in 2013, and dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012.
Gill collects and makes objects, photographs, writes, experiments with various printing techniques. She often works on paper, and her work looks at paper from different perspectives: as support for images, as material for objects, as index of a process of entropic decay.
Works from two different series are shown at Kohta. Naga Doodles (2017) is a large series of prints, in etching ink on various Japanese papers with occasional stains of snake blood. A selection of these prints are pinned onto the walls of the larger exhibition space, while around a hundred prints from the photographic series Sun Pictures (2013) are shown on vitrine tables in the smaller space.
Nāga is the Sanskrit word for a deity taking the form of a great snake in Indian religions. The snake cult also occurs throughout South Eastern Asia. Gill has chosen the word to name this series of prints:
‘In Malay, naga means dragon. The mythical, sacred and zoological meet in this word. I have always been faintly aware of the run-over snakes on our roads, but I got a closer look recently, while driving with a friend who is knowledgeable about snakes. He alerted me to a cobra that had just been run over by the motorcycle in front of us, and we stopped, picked it up and put it in the trunk of our car.
Because I was printing other things at that time, when we got to my studio I also made a direct print of the cobra. I remembered having made similar prints of fish bought in the market. The snakes I pick up are more or less flattened; that’s how they presented themselves to me as “printable”. When I see them on the roads now, they seem to me like found drawings. Absent-minded doodles.’
These prints illustrate and illuminate (i.e. cast light upon) the process of record-taking, much in the same way as Gill’s various photographic series. And much like Naga Doodles, but with different means, the second series being shown, Sun Pictures articulates the experience of mapping and the mapping of experience:
‘A few years ago I went to north-western Australia, where the continent faces the Indian Ocean. Every day for a couple of weeks I would follow the tide as it went out –taking me a tiny bit closer to what’s on the other side. I collected two kinds of seashells washed up on the beach and took these pictures of the sun, using all the different film stock I already had, some of it obsolete and no longer in production.
Back in Sydney, my printer said, “These pictures are so boring; what shall I do with them? They are just repetitions!” But I said to her, “I want you to print them all. Just go through all your drawers and use any leftover papers. Whatever you can find. Just like all the leftover film I used to take them.” This is why the work became such a physical manifestation of randomness and sameness, which is another image of record-taking.’
The exhibition is organised by Kohta, and Simryn Gill’s work is shown courtesy of Jhaveri Contemporary in Mumbai, Tracy Wiliams Ltd in New York and Utopia Art Sydney.
Works from the series “Naga Doodles”, 2017. Photos courtesy of the artist and Lunds konsthall.
Installation views of Simryn Gill’s exhibition “Works on Paper” at Kohta, Helsinki. Photos: Jussi Tiainen.