Above: 'Dreams', an instillation by Misery. Copyright Misery 2009.
As mentioned in my previous post, local artist Misery shared a recent art show at Plaything Gallery with James Jean, titled 'The Heart of Misery'.
Misery's work first came to my attention in 1998, as mysterious but endearing graffiti of her cute, melancholy characters appearing on the walls and streets of inner Auckland City. Around 2000 she became part of the Illicit label where her talent was fostered by the late great Martin F. Emond. With his encouragement and mentoring she widened her artistic skills and branding to include: painting, fashion and tattoo designs. Having successfully developed her art style, she broke away from Illicit to launch her own Misery Boutique store on Auckland's K Rd.
The artwork on show consisted of paintings, some instillation pieces and a wall of silk screen prints. While I have enjoyed her love lorn Bette Boop-like characters in the past, 8 or so years later I was hoping for a bit more of a development. Not to say that the artwork isn't well realised, but she's pretty much done this theme to...ur..death.
Above: 'Death', an instillation by Misery. Copyright Misery 2009.
The installations made up of head-flowers were nicely presented, but it was a little more retail display than artistic statement (each one is sold separately!). They were also the most expensive of her pieces, the painted flowers would set you back around $2000 a head.
The wall of silk screens were a colourful crowd pleaser (and at a reasonable $180 a print), but I couldn't help thinking that if you were a fan of Misery's work, wouldn't you already own one of these by now?
I have to say the biggest mistake of this show was committing the cardinal sin of art school: when selecting artwork for an exhibition choose only your BEST work! This wasn't a diverse enough showing for a retrospective, and unfortunately there was artwork on display that just shouldn't have made the cut.
In an effort to fill up each wall with artwork there were needless repetitions; a complete series of paintings done in the same technique when just the best examples would have sufficed. And in some cases, like an ill-informed attempt at painting in thick acrylics, experiments that should never have left the studio.
Don't get me wrong, I think she's excellent at what she does, her branding and tattoo work is exquisitely done. But when it comes to exhibiting 'new works' I think she needs to change it up. Show me something new, a different state of Misery, because I've seen this all before.
To see more of Misery's artwork and purchase from her online store, check out her website: Miseryland.