Expressing culture through abstract art

Danielle Clent/Fairfax NZ

Expressing self through art

A disability is no barrier for their artistic talent.

Yung Chen and Yuri Kingsley-Smith both have cerebral palsy and use art to express themselves.

Art therapist Marion Gordon-Flower, who works with Chen and Kingsley-Smith, said they both have the goal of becoming recognised artists.

Yung Chen and Yuri Kingsley-Smith's art can be categorised as abstract expressionism.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Yung Chen and Yuri Kingsley-Smith's art can be categorised as abstract expressionism.

"They are united through this idea of working through abstract and expressionism," she said.

Chen uses abstract expressionism to portray his cultural heritage. He was born in Taiwan and moved to New Zealand at the age of 10 because his parents wanted to be able to access specialist health care and better education opportunities.

One of Chen's art pieces, 'The Way of the Golden Dragon' expresses his culture by using the colour gold. Gold symbolises completeness and wealth in Chinese custom.

Yung Chen with his art piece 'The Way of the Golden Dragon' that will be showing in the exhibition.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Yung Chen with his art piece 'The Way of the Golden Dragon' that will be showing in the exhibition.

Gordon-Flower said Chen adds a lot of emotion into his art in order to express what is going on for him.

She said this greatly translates to an audience.

Kingsley-Smith uses his art to show his heritage through use of aquatic themes. With a Fijian background, his abstract art shows Fijian sunsets and tropical fish.

Yung Chen and Yuri Kingsley-Smith with their art therapist Marion Gordon-Flower.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Yung Chen and Yuri Kingsley-Smith with their art therapist Marion Gordon-Flower.

"Yuri has an exceptional talent for using colour and paints like an expressionist. He knows how to compose with colour and his compositions are very successful. Not everyone has that intellectual understanding of art," Gordon-Flower said.

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Chen said he does not see his disability as a barrier and believes everyone is equal.

"Just because I am in a wheelchair doesn't mean I can't do it," he said.

Yuri Kingsley-Smith working on an art piece.
DANIELLE CLENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Yuri Kingsley-Smith working on an art piece.

He also said art can be seen as therapy for people with disabilities.

"Sometimes we have a lot going on and we need something to calm us down. Most of us are so busy and we try and cope with artwork," he said.

Chen and Kingsley-Smith are two of four artists showing their work at the Plinth-like Pliability art exhibition at the Art Centre Helensville.

They will be joined by Philip Butler and Cameron Valois.

The exhibition can be seen from March 4 through to March 27.

The public will have the chance to meet the artists at the art centre on March 17 from 1.30-3.30pm.

 - Stuff

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