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Nativity story: Oscar Enberg, Sculptor

Dec 10, 2015 Art

Just in time for the Christmas season, Christchurch-born, Auckland-based sculptor Oscar Enberg opens his new solo exhibition, The prophet, the wise, the technician, and the Pharisee, at Artspace.

Photo: Josh Griggs. 

In his cavernous warehouse studio off K’ Road, separated from a ukulele importer by a wall of cardboard boxes, Enberg says the nativity story’s symbolic power relates to the potential for the re-evaluation and reorganisation of social hierarchies, through the figure of baby Jesus. “Also,” he says with a wry smile, “I just really wanted to make a Christmas show.”The exhibition centres on the nativity scene as the sculptural investigation into businessman John Court and the changing landscape of retail and commercial enterprise in early 20th century Auckland.

His sculptures tell stories: about the place they’re first shown or the place they’re made; about classical and popular culture; about wealth and commerce; about risk and happenstance; about, he says, “histories that might have at one point crossed paths or brushed shoulders, just for a moment.”

Since his first commercial show at Hopkinson Mossman in 2013, Enberg has made exhibitions inspired by the opening of the first casino in Macau, exhibited in Hong Kong, and a historic Scandinavian bakery in financial peril, exhibited in Malmö, Sweden.

His practice is research intensive, but results in work that is illustrative and physical, unburdened by an overload of information. “I like symbolism a lot, like these outmoded ways of communicating ideas,” he says. “All that content, all that narrative acts as a generator of sculptural form.”      


The Prophet, the Wise, the Technician, and the Pharisee, Artspace, December to February 2016,


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