Transcendental images of New Zealand sky, horizons and water by photographer Brian Sweeney are on show at pop-up New Zealand gallery ORA on New York’s Seventh Avenue.
“Paradise Road,” Sweeney’s exhibition of works also celebrates the publication of a fine art book of the same name from Italian art publisher Charta. The show features 12 of Brian Sweeney’s favorite pieces of nature photography, mostly shot in the artist’s native New Zealand. Some of the heroically scaled prints—with their dramatic color bands of horizon, sky, and ocean, and intimations of the divine—recall the luminous and ineffable paintings of Mark Rothko or the films of Terrence Malick.
In the catalogue essay, noted New Zealand playwright and filmmaker Stuart McKenzie writes: “While we may have lost a religious outlook, there are certain modalities of nature that continue to move us on a symbolic and/or unconscious level. No doubt this is part of the power of Brian Sweeney’s photographs in Paradise Road. These photos envision the world around us in its grandeur and banality as a sacred milieu to the very extent that it is not. The word ‘paradise’ tells us to look up, but then again the word ‘road’ advises that we keep our feet on the ground. Sweeney’s keenly discriminated images of sky, clouds, horizons, mountains, water, and trees strike us with an atavistic sense of the sacred power of nature.”
That dichotomy—between the transcendent and the quotidian; the spiritual and the mercantile—is something the New York-based Sweeney knows well. As co-founder and chairman of SweeneyVesty, an international strategic communications agency founded in New Zealand in 1987, Sweeney has lived full-time in New York since 2003. The agency recently opened its new worldwide headquarters in the Flatiron District (419 Park Avenue South). Sweeney is also founder and producer of NZEDGE, a website project about the global life of New Zealanders.
“I’m delighted to debut this work at ORA Gallery to mark the publication of Paradise Road,” says Sweeney. “I’ve lived and worked in New York for a dozen years now, and believe strongly in a rich cultural and commercial NY-NZ connection. Opening the show here feels very appropriate and special to me personally. As I remarked about one of my photos of Aoraki Mt Cook, “If mountains were show business, this would be Broadway,” so it’s rewarding to bring that vision of New Zealand to New York’s legendary streets.”
“Paradise Road” is on show through the month of October. ORA Gallery hours are Wednesday -Sunday, 11AM-7PM. 51 7th Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets. Pieces range in price from $350 to $4000.
About ORA Gallery
ORA Gallery is a space dedicated to New Zealand Art and Design, which will run till the end of December 2015 culminating in a holiday store of all things Kiwi. It is the passion project of Giarna Te Kanawa who has lived in New York since moving from New Zealand in 1994 at the age of 19. After studying at Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in 1997, she went on to create Aroha Productions, which produced one of the first New Zealand Plays Off Broadway.
Her desire to get reconnected with her Maori roots inspired the melding of her New York and New Zealand dualities. Her passion has always been to bring communities and people together, creating opportunities, connections, and communication. ORA Gallery is the meeting of many paths converging together.
It will create the opportunity for New Zealand artists to have exposure in the heart of New York City. ORA Gallery will have the permanent presence of world-renowned lighting designer David Trubridge. There is amazing talent in New Zealand and Giarna is proud to be able to showcase these artists and designers to an international audience. For more information visit www.oranygallery.com.