Sutton Gallery is pleased to present Frida & Friends, an exhibition of new and recent works by Kate Beynon. Through the use of portraiture, self-portraiture and auspicious symbols, the exhibition advances Beynon’s ongoing exploration of the complexities of identity, cultures and contemporary existence.
Throughout her practice, Beynon employs her distinct visual style to depict the hybrid reality of today’s multicultural global citizen. Laden with real and fictional characters, mythological beasts and symbolic talismans, and informed by a diverse range of pictorial traditions including European art history, Chinese painting, comic books, animation, film, graffiti, calligraphy and fashion, Beynon’s work is a nexus of influences that negotiate a global landscape marked by politics of race, identity and culture.
Frida & Friends sees Beynon extend her interest in the representation of female figures. Alongside recent paintings of powerful female guardian characters surrounded by an array of signs, symbols and charms borrowed from various cultural sources, the exhibition also features portraits of women associated with the surrealist art movement, including the painters Frida Kahlo, Leonor Fini and Remedios Varo Uranga. Often overlooked for their role within the European avant-garde during the early twentieth-century, Beynon celebrates each woman’s contribution to Surrealism, with Fini depicted in one of her famed masquerade ball masks, and a portrait of Varo presented alongside Beynon’s own interpretation of the central figure of the artist’s scientifically ambitious painting Creation of the Birds.
Within many of Beynon’s portraits, dragons and dogs are often present, appearing as both companions and protectors. Born in Kowloon, Hong Kong (‘the city of 9 dragons’) and granddaughter to the late Chan Kee Loong (Loong meaning ‘dragon’), Beynon shares a close affinity to this mythical creature. The ‘fu dogs’ or ‘lucky dogs’ are also personally significant; incorporated as a way to mark Beynon’s birth in the Year of the Dog. Often playfully depicted as chunky green canines with pink swirly manes and flashy grins, the fu dogs resemble the artist’s own rescued Staffy cross-breed. These hybrid creatures challenge the notion of ‘pure origin’, while also creating a sense of adoration and safe-guarding.
Kate Beynon has exhibited extensively since 1993. Her most significant solo exhibitions include Auspicious Charms for Transcultural Living, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2008; Mixed Blood and Migratory Paths, The Physics Room, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2005; and Kate Beynon 1994-2002, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Adelaide, 2002. Beynon has also participated in numerous local and international group exhibitions, with recent selections including The Naked Face: Self-portraits, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2011; Change, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne 2010; and The China Project, Three Decades: The Contemporary Chinese Collection, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2009. She has also participated in major institutional surveys including Global Feminisms, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, USA, 2007; Fieldwork; Australian Art 1968 – 2002; The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2002; and Perspecta 99, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1999.
Beynon held a studio residency at Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces between 2000 and 2002. She has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize, presented at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Her work is held in significant public collections including American University, Washington DC, USA; The Museum of Modern Art (MMK), Frankfurt, Germany; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.Artist’s profile