Creative, Sweet

Escape Mechanism

Posted by Creative, Sweet

Almost a year has passed since some of the worlds most prestigious urban street artists artwork found residency in the heart of Auckland City along Ponsonby Road, courtesy of New Zealand’s largest and leading Urban & Contemporary Art Gallery. Limn Gallery has been introducing local residents to the world as well as promoting some of Aotearoa’s biggest names. 

Limn Gallery has taken on the mammoth task of obtaining and exhibiting a huge body of collectable and purchasable art. A lot of the artworks exhibited at Limn Gallery are sold out at the source, being able to walk in and walk away with something from here is a luxury and a rare opportunity. 

Limn Gallery had a successful opening in late July 2021, right before the country went into hibernation. They held on and came back even stronger with the incredibly successful “Main Line” show by Ghostcat, and now they look to double down as they put forward their next big draw card, Wellington based artist Chimp. 

Like a friendly ol neighbour, BurgerFuel came knocking with burgers to welcome Limn gallery to the neighbourhood on their opening night, and now we’re that friend that comes over unannounced. You’ll find us there again on the opening night of Chimps solo show “Escape Mechanism”, we were lucky to get a minute of his time to hear what he’s been up to and also where he’s heading. 

We caught up with Chimp in 2020 when the world took a turn towards the unknown, like many artists, it was a dusty period, travel was cancelled and job opportunities were slim. Chimp has battled through, kept his head down and come out the other end ready to go.

Haser: Thanks for joining us again, to refresh everyone's minds, can you tell us who you are and where you're from?

Chimp: I'm based in Wellington and for nearly a decade I've painted murals and canvases under the alias Chimp, It's been my dream to be a full time artist, to be able to experiment with aesthetics on different projects and develop and evolve my work. 

That’s great, I applaud anyone that takes that leap into being a full time artist, it goes against everything we have been taught in regards to growing up and getting a job. I think a life dedicated to getting to know yourself is a life well lived. 

Last time we caught up, you said you were pretty focused on travelling and honing your style, I know one of those was out of the equation, how has your work come along?

Yes, since Covid hit everyone has had to recalibrate a bit. On the plus side it has given me lots of time to focus on my originality, spending hours in the studio both physically painting and making as well as digitally developing designs.

Now that travel is an option again, are ya planning on dusting off the ol passport?

I have flights booked to London for a month later this year which I'm excited about, will have to ask you about the best spots!

Awesome work and love the enthusiasm. I’m a firm believer that when one door closes, another one opens and you just have to be patient with that process. I’m excited for you to get on a plane, and I’ll be sure to point you in the right direction when you touch down in London. 

I know you’ve shown with Limn Gallery before, what’s the relationship there, and how did this show come about?

Matt from Limn gallery has been really supportive of my work ever since he started the gallery a couple years back, it's awesome to have a space in Auckland specialising in urban art and I jumped at the opportunity to exhibit a body of work up there. 

Thanks Matt, we love your work. Escape Mechanism, what’s the idea behind this?

Realising that travel was out of the picture for a while I attempted to purchase a house throughout 2020, but I found the experience draining to say the least. 

Escape Mechanism was a venting of my own frustrations at the housing crisis in Aotearoa. The exhibition covers three chapters; Shelter as a human need, our current situation, and a few (some sarcastic) solutions.

My priorities have shifted as I've developed this body of work over almost two years and I have found myself a lot happier accepting the current housing situation for what it is.

It’s such an important subject to respond to, as you mentioned, shelter is a human need and I don’t think it’s a priority here, I hope your show brings a louder voice to this conversation.

Art has always had the ability to create a wider conversation, how do you think art can aid this situation (Aotearoa’s housing crisis)?

I think exhibiting these artworks is a bit of a release of that frustration and at its best some ideas for a better future.

As a lone artist you can't physically change much more than the things you have time to create, so I frame it as an opportunity to encourage people to look at the crisis from each other's perspectives, alternatives, and see the realities. Housing is not an investment strategy, it's a human right. That's not to say investors and builders shouldn't be able to make money from building houses - but the way the industry has ended up the investor has the upper hand on the first home buyer.  

Owning a house is something I always thought I’d do, but that dream evaporates more every day. I think it’s very unrealistic and irresponsible for average income earners to take out million dollar loans. I hope one day in the future we can talk about buying our first home, till then, we will continue to catch up in our grimy little studios haha. 

The reality is, this is one of many issues we are facing today and there are plenty more that are worth shining the torch on, are there any other issues you’d like to challenge?

The theme developing in my head currently is on our adaptation and transformation, especially accelerated by the hardest years my generation (and many others) have seen in our lives. 

I imagine you are still Wellington based? Is a change of scenery on the cards?

Still Wellington based, although I have been talking about an overseas stint for so long. Now that things are opening up it's on the cards!

Please do it, we love seeing our creatives take flight and establish themselves overseas.

What’s the balance between your studio and commission work? I know it can be a balancing act sometimes.

My balance of commissions to self driven projects is a hard one but I attempt to keep it 50/50. 

It usually ends up as a couple of intense months towards commissions and then swings back towards building a solo exhibition before looping back around, gotta pay the bills eh..

The struggle is real.

Are there any young artists that are exciting you at the moment?

Young artists across Aotearoa are pushing it which helps motivate me to keep grinding and continue on my own path. 

A lot of the artists that are currently inspiring me are actually collective based, like TMD and Dreamgirls collective. Which does highlight the quality collaboration can bring out in art. 

I’ve always been a part of a collective so the idea of working alone is still quite foreign, do you think working alone benefits you or can you imagine yourself in a collective in the future?

I enjoy working alone, as I'm very self motivated and the immersion of solo work is critical to my current output. However I've always wanted to be a part of a collective and if the opportunity arose I would be interested. Having artists you trust to bounce ideas off and enjoy the process with would be excellent. 

I know what you mean, admittedly I’m an isolated artist and I do most things on my own, but having a collective to turn to, or exhibit with helps open doors that might not get opened on your own. I think Dreamgirls is a great example of some artists that occupy their own practice but manage to take it to another level when they come together. 

What does the near and distant future hold for you?

Future plans are getting some traveling in like the trip to the UK I have coming up, maybe South America next year and seeing what influences may arise from that.

Best of luck Chimp, we’ll have a burger here for you when you return and we look forward to hearing how it goes.

Thanks a lot for your time Chimp, if you would like to see more of Chimp’s work you can follow him on the grams or visit his website here.

You can also visit Limn Gallery at 119 Ponsonby Road, Auckland or find and follow them on the grams