Self/Mem (Cancer and Capricorn)


Oil on linen

1000mm (H) x 1000mm (W)

Ships from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
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Artist Statement

The artist, who identifies as Pākeha and Jewish, picks up on the Ladder in the Dream of Jacob in Genesis 28 that connects heaven and earth. It is a path of transcendence and an encouragement to find heaven on earth.

Using Esperanto, a language designed with the intention of bringing hope and a Universal connection to the world, Bonco hides the text “Self ” and “Mem”, the world for self in Esperanto. Hidden alongside the words are zodiacal signs – Cancer (the artist’s star sign) and Capricorn (his brother’s). The use of constellations draw attention to Genesis 15:5, a passage that has inspired several of the artist’s paintings, where God tells Abraham to go outside and count the stars: “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”

The divine fiat is a demand for one to strive for what is acknowledged to be impossible, a reference to our part of the cosmic whole. As Carl Sagan used to say, we are made of star stuff. It is this paradoxical conflict the grid allows between the material and spiritual realms that motivates Bonco’s work. 

About the Artist


Bonco (aka Paul Nathan) is a full time artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. He predominantly paints with oil on linen but sometimes makes sculpture and textiles. Situated within the field of geometric abstraction, Bonco is interested in discovering the spiritual, through an investigation of the modernist grid, and its variations
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