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Len Lye: Kaleidoscope, A Major Exhibition Of Kinetic Works

Len Lye: Kaleidoscope
A Major Exhibition Of Kinetic Works At City Gallery Wellington

‘I came to look at the way things moved by trying to feel their movement in my body, in my muscles, in my bones.’—Len Lye

Len Lye fans are in for a treat when City Gallery Wellington hosts the city’s first major exhibition of his kinetic sculptures and abstract films in over ten years, Len Lye: Kaleidoscope (2 March–26 May 2013).This exhibition is proudly presented in collaboration with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth and the Len Lye Foundation.

A pioneering filmmaker, sculptor, poet and painter, Len Lye (1901–1980) started exploring the potential of motion as a young artist in Wellington. He went on to become one of the most globally influential and recognised New Zealand artists of the twentieth century, known as the ‘composer of motion’, and inventor of the ‘direct film’ technique which involved painting, scratching, stencilling and cutting holes in film to expose motion and colour.

Co-curator Paul Brobbel, of Govett-Brewster Art Gallery explains, ‘the show takes its title from Lye’s film Kaleidoscope (1935)—a word that means ‘to look upon beautiful shapes.’

‘The selection of artworks unmistakably captures the energy and essence of Len Lye. He was a maverick, an exuberant and free-spirited artist with a vision for art that moves,’ continues Brobbel.

The recently reconstructed Ribbon Snake (1965) sculpture has never been exhibited in New Zealand until now and the violent and noisy Storm King (1965) will keep visitors on their toes, intermittently bursting into life.

The eight kinetic sculptures also include the dancing Firebush (1961, 2007 reconstruction), the delicate Roundhead (1960, 1998 reconstruction) and the popular Universe (1976, 1998 reconstruction), their sheen and shadows emphasised by coloured lighting.

The exhibition also includes examples of Lye’s colourful abstract films and his renowned 1958 scratch film Free Radicals, made available by the New Zealand Film Archive.

‘This exhibition at City Gallery Wellington gives residents and visitors of the Wellington region a unique opportunity to see Lye’s thrilling kinetic work in action,’ says Brobbel.

The Len Lye Foundation is responsible for bringing Lye’s vision to life and ensuring his work remains an active cultural force. Lye's archives, sculpture, painting, textiles and photographic work are housed and cared for by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth. Len Lye: Kaleidoscope will be the most extensive exhibition of Lye’s work to be seen in New Zealand in the lead up to the opening of the new Len Lye Centre at the Govett-Brewster in 2015.

The exhibition will be presented upstairs in the South Gallery within City Gallery Wellington and will be accompanied by a series of public events.


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