Meet the Artist: Graham Fletcher

There’s one artist in New Zealand who gives new meaning to “adding a room.” Graham Fletcher’s art is a little of that, and a whole lot more. Lounge Room Tribalism is a series of oil paintings by Fletcher who is of Samoan and European heritage. Fletcher’s work explores the legacy of the widespread European tradition of housing collections of tribal art in domestic settings.  The detail, including the flooring in his work is astonishing.

As you see in this painting, the tribal artifacts challenge the ordinary living space of a modern home in the 1960’s. The wall hanging is not only out of context but its ‘heritage’ plays games in the setting of a 1960’s modern home.  If the artifacts were to be removed, what would be left?  IDG spoke recently with Fletcher.
IDG: Is your work in the states?

GF: I haven’t yet explored gallery representation in the States but I have been involved in a couple of State side shows recently. The first was in 2011 at the Red Mill Gallery, Vermont and the following year I exhibited in a group show entitled ATA at the Harris Gallery of the University of La Verne, California.

IDG: What interior designers are promoting your work?

GF: I don’t know which local interior designers are actively promoting my work, but my art dealer Melanie Roger has a network of designers and architects that are very supportive of my work. One commission I took on a few years ago was to supply a number of artworks to a newly built Hilton Hotel located on central Auckland’s waterfront. It was an enjoyable experience and nice to see my work in such plush surroundings.

IDG: Your work certainly gives new meaning to ‘adding on a room!”

GF: I enjoy making these works on a large scale which coincidentally may take on the proportions of a window. A collector of one of the Lounge Room Tribalism works once told me that sometimes, out of the corner of her eye, her lounge room painting gives the illusion of an adjoining room – another space. Although my intention was never to create a trompe l'oeil effect, the idea of an optical, illusionary space is interesting to me.

DG: What's next?

GF:  I’m currently working on a new body of work to be exhibited at Melanie Roger Gallery (Auckland) in July 2013. The show is entitled Sugar Loaf Waka and represents a slight shift away from previous ‘Lounge Room Tribalism’ works. Tribal objects are still strategically placed within Modernist interiors, but these objects now function with new roles that force them to integrate more with their new environments (as well as be further alienated from their historical function). The Sugar Loaf Waka, is one of many pyramids in the Rimac Valley of Peru, and is thought to be the oldest of the pre-Inca monuments. Within these Wakas can be found funerary chambers that contain mummified corpses often surrounded by a range of objects such as earthenware pots and wooden oars. This notion of preservation is central to the ideas behind the Sugar Loaf Waka works, to the point where these idealized spaces become time capsules where meaning is altered through the passage of time.