Susan Te Kahurangi King: Character Development


Susan Te Kahurangi King: Character Development presents a break-out taxonomy of figures who otherwise appear in a single large multimedia work by the artist executed in 2017 and featured on the cover of this publication. The artwork is exceptional in terms of the variety of characters depicted and the unintentionally collaborative nature of the work, created over a period of nearly fifty years, a relic of childhood play repurposed by a connective abstract aesthetic. Indeed, one of King’s siblings is most likely responsible for the application of character transfers that were later united by the artist’s line work.

Further mirroring the drawing is our purpose to create connections among these characters as they relate to the artist’s visual language. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Bugs Bunny repeatedly appear as both visual anchors and building blocks for decades of invention. Rather than imitative rendering, the vast majority of King’s figurative works employ characters not as they are, but as she has dissolved, abstracted, dissected, and reconstituted them over many years. The resulting drawings are familiar yet private meditations on color, form, line, and identity.

Lastly, we have invited Petita Cole, King’s sister, to pen observations in the form of notes related to each work presented here. Reading this text is akin to sitting
with Cole and discussing the various details, figures, family stories, and their connections to the larger world, a universe she has spent years studying, archiving, and sharing with a wider audience. Uncontrived and rich with specificity, her notations reflect the sensitivity and devotion of a sister, precise and expansive in their assertions. They are inviting, playful, and thoroughly illuminative.

Published by MARCH, 2024.
9 x 14 3/4 inches, 52 pages.
Designed by Ethan Fedele.