Simon Kaan describes his work as ‘biological landscapes’, animated vistas that piece together a sense of belonging and explore a multi-dimensional sense of self. The images he creates, like the work of the late Ralph Hotere, can be viewed through an allegorical window.
Born in Sawyers Bay in Dunedin in 1971, Kaan has been working for two decades now, since graduating from the Otago Polytechnic School of Art in 1993. At art school Kaan specialised in printmaking, a practice he was taught by Maori educationalist and printmaker Marilynn Webb and Barry Cleavin, a maker of etchings.
As well as having a dedicated printmaking practice Kaan also paints. His painting he says extends from his printmaking base, including notions of reduction. Like Chinese ink and wash works, Kaan’s paintings and prints are not just straightforward reproductions; his work is more of an attempt to capture the intangible or the spirit of a subject. Using a restrained colour palette, often monochromatic or sometimes monochromatic with a single burst of colour, Kaan’s landscapes are uncluttered, contemplative and leave space, as writer Claire Finlayson proposed, for a viewer to ‘breathe’.
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