Life Puzzle is the first substantial exhibition to survey the work of Ōtepoti-based artist Nick Austin. Featuring works produced over the last 15 years selected and arranged by the artist, it was first presented in 2022 at the Whangārei Art Museum, in the town where he was born and grew up. Austin describes the exhibition’s presentation as being “in the manner of a person who, late in the evening, gazing into the middle distance asks: ‘How the heck did I get here?’.”
Austin’s work is hard to pin down. He takes everyday objects and re-imagines them differently. While a first reaction is to laugh, Austin describes his intention as being to “articulate familiar senses –anticipation, uncertainty, the difficulty of communication – in unfamiliar ways.”
Life Puzzle consists of drawings, paintings, and sculptures that nod knowingly to the histories of surrealist, modernist, conceptual, and minimalist art and offer wry observations on life, using visual puns and wordplays to amusing and serious effect.