Gallerysmith is delighted to present a solo exhibition of new work by Susanne Kerr. Kerr's works examine human behaviour and present visual allegories of engagement and intent. By teasing out the problematic correlation between human endeavour and the scars left on nature, Kerr seeks to make sense of her own dis-ease about the future of humanity. Ribbon forms which wrap elements of nature and bind figures provide visual metaphors for power, control, and internal conflict. Arresting, unsettling, but ultimately beautiful, these works bridge the gap between seeing and feeling.
Aotearoa  Art Fair,  New Zealand’s premier event for contemporary art, returns to Auckland from Thursday 18 – Sunday 21 April 2024  at its new home, the Viaduct Events Centre.
Image: Susanne Kerr, Apple Tree, 2023, gouache, acrylic, ink, and hand-cut paper paintings on Hahnemühle watercolour paper, 102x75 cm


Susanne Kerr’s artworks are composed of quiet allegories that mimic life, providing a touchstone to the human experience. Over the past decade Kerr has interrogated the social connections – spoken and unspoken – that bind people together.

The body of work presented at Aotearoa Art Fair is a continuation of Kerr’s endeavour to find balance and alchemy between space, paint, subject, emotion, movement, and energy. Her conceptual threads are poised delicately between the psychological unease of the underlying narratives and the beauty of aesthetic depiction.

Kerr observes her immediate natural environment to explore the interdependency between humans and nature. A small selection of recent works are inspired by the botanical forms collected and painted by Sydney Parkinson while on Captain Cook’s first voyage, which were later compiled into a book published by Joseph Banks titled Florilegium.

Underlying the luscious and bountiful colour-drenched environments is a concern for our precarious relationship with nature. The histories of encounter, exchange, depletion, and survival that our surroundings could tell. In these works, Kerr weaves predatory ribbon-like forms, serving as visual allegories of power, control, influence, and internal conflict; representing human emotions and our manipulation of the natural environment.

“…my recent artworks reference the intermingling of native and introduced species from 200 years of colonisation. I want to consider the changing nature of our environment and highlight our interdependence and the need to walk alongside it with care.”

Kerr’s constructed worlds overflow with cultural references and biodiversity, where native, endemic and introduced species intertwine, and elements of Chinoiserie and Ikebana are woven into the botanical scenes. Oriental art and Eastern philosophy have long informed her works. Asymmetry, a flattened picture space, stylised nature, Ikebana forms and the concept of Ma are incorporated – imparting a quiet, dynamic energy in her works.

“…the presence and resolution of white space as a structural device and drawing tool reflects my interest in the concept of Ma. Simply put, it is the space or void between drawn parts – evoking the invisible or an emptiness full of possibilities.”

This layering of influences and narratives extends into Kerr’s painting processes; where many of her artworks repurpose existing paintings, overworking or manipulating them with sgraffito or a process Kerr describes as ‘cut-paintings’.

Re-purposing, disassembling and reassembling echoes the physical loss of remnant habitats within nature. As Kerr draws connections between different fragments of history, culture, and botanical imagery, she is considering the tenuous relationship of humans to the environments in which they reside in and are a part of.