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Laurence Couchman
Dada Artist

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Laurence Couchman is an assemblage artist that art critic and writer Warwick Brown recently referred to as a late-starter who has “taken up an outmoded and almost forgotten area of art history and breathed new life into it”.


Brown is describing the artist’s recent foray into what Laurence calls vertical assemblage, and what Brown also says was celebrated as Dada Art in the early 20th century.


Accordingly, in the heart of Auckland’s Onehunga, Laurence’s studio boasts canvases and boards replete with catholic curios, bullet riddled computer cases, torn verses penned by E.E Cummings and pieces of glass. Most works are drawn together by the artist’s signature round lids.


“It wasn't until nearing the end of completing this series of works” says Laurence of his almost complete Composition Series # 1 “that I realised my ‘self' was creeping in - the works were becoming autobiographical. The self-appearing in these works are what cannot be said in any other way, objects & their placement replace words.”


Laurence is an untrained artist who, eighteen months ago, was deep in an abstract expressionist phase, enjoying the  influence of greats from Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner to Robert Rauschenberg and the later works of Ian Fairweather.

Many of these works sold in 2014 at Laurence’s first solo show. Kurt Schwitters, a famous Dada Artist, has had a particularly strong influence on Laurence’s current style.


However the value of art goes deeper than a literally colourful lifestyle and the dream of one day earning a living from the perceived value of his work. Laurence’s practice has also provided a vehicle to move therapeutically away from years of social anxiety, a condition he has publicly championed the support of.


Laurence’s second solo show was held at Brown’s private gallery; it is the first time in ten years that Mr Brown’s Ellerton Gallery has received an art show, an event the critic was thrilled to hold to support someone he believes holds infinite promise.