• Lucien Rizos

Everything is a project by Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington-based artist Lucien Rizos. Over three years he has documented the possessions of his uncle, Gerald O’Brien (1924–2017), Labour Party MP for Island Bay (1969–78) and local businessman. Rizos has organised his documentation into more than 60 magazines that canvass everything O’Brien kept relating to his public and private life. He has also made detailed composite photographs of his uncle’s bookshelves as an extended portrait of someone he was close to and deeply admired. This exhibition brings Rizos’s large-scale photographs, magazines and scanned imagery together with actual artefacts from O’Brien’s archive. It focuses in particular on Rizos’s most startling find. This is his uncle’s secret art project worked on from childhood well into his adult life that invented a parallel world with an alternate geography, nation states, public figures and histories. The exhibition presents invented maps, lists, newspapers and hand-written histories as well as hundreds of his cut-out and hand-painted figures that represent named personages holding public office in his imagined world. Working with curator Robert Leonard, Rizos both offers up his uncle’s secret life to its first public scrutiny and tests the capacity of his medium to effectively tell O’Brien’s story. There is much to learn from the obsessions of both men, which Robert Leonard touches on in his account of this intriguing project.

Lucien Rizos is a Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington-based artist who describes himself as operating on the fringes of the art world since the late 1970s. Former violinist with the NZSO, Rizos has been exhibiting his photographs and films for over 25 years. Notable exhibitions include: A Man of His Time, Photospace Gallery, Wellington, 2020; Marble Art Ltd., Anna Miles Gallery, Auckland, 2017;  Reverberation, City Gallery Wellington, 2014; History in the Taking, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland, 2014; Cinema & Painting. GDBY PK P. Screening. Adam Art Gallery, in conjunction with Circuit Artist Film and Video Aotearoa. Curated by Michelle Menzies and Mark Williams, 2013; Where I Find Myself, Work 1974-2005. Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, Wellington, 2005; and Lest We Forget: Photography, Memory and National Character, Wellington City Art Gallery, 1994. 

Robert Leonard is a curator and writer. He has held curatorial posts at National Art Gallery, Wellington; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Auckland Art Gallery, and City Gallery Wellington, and has directed Auckland’s Artspace and Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art. His shows include: Zac Langdon Pole: Containing Multitudes, City Gallery Wellington, 2020; Colin McCahon: On Going Out with the Tide, City Gallery Wellington, 2017; Julian Dashper & Friends, City Gallery Wellington, 2015; Yvonne Todd: Creamy Psychology, City Gallery Wellington, 2014; Mixed-Up Childhood, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, 2005; Action Replay: Post-Object Art, Artspace, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, and Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland and New Plymouth, 1998; Headlands: Thinking through New Zealand Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 1992; and others. Leonard has also curated New Zealand artists’ representation at Brisbane’s Asia-Pacific Triennial in 1999, the Sao Paulo Bienal in 2002, and the Venice Biennale in 2003 and 2015. He is co-publisher of the imprint Bouncy Castle and editor of Art News New Zealand.

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