RT Nelson Emerging Artist Award recipient: Bonco

Congratulations to Auckland artist Paul Nathan,  one of the four recipients of the 2018 RT Nelson Emerging Artist Award


‘Polax’, acrylic on aluminium


Abstract painter Bonco, completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts from Elam University of Auckland in 2017 with a focus on oil paint on canvas. His work revolves around using the idea of a game to explore concepts around the authenticity of experience and identity. He suggests that in Western civilization human society replicates a deeply entrenched consumerist value system while at the same time innately deluded about one’s own significance both personally and as a species in relation to the cosmos.

His paintings have been created in the manner of a quasi-scientific experiment to probe Donald Winnicott’s theories of the “True Self” and “False Self.” Using the geometric grid as a proxy, he has embedded four letter words with his own code, words that have negative connotations that speak of human frailty. By doing this, he is attempting to transform the viewer’s experience of the work, once the titles of the paintings (the embedded words) are revealed. The aim is to create the conditions necessary to destabilise the viewer, asking them to question their own relationship to these concepts and to the work itself.



When he’s not painting, he’s taking photos, but as Paul Nathan. In the early 2000’s he sold up his jewellery store in Auckland and moved to New York where he studied filmmaking and photography: fashion photography became his primary occupation whilst living in New York.

He also delved into portraiture, documenting tattooed people and groomed dogs, exploring how transformation affects identity.

He embarked on his fine art study at Elam because he wanted to do something more introspective.

‘Plus, I love study; I’d do it forever if I could’.


Left: ‘290518’. Right: ‘050618’


‘SLOT’, oil on canvas

‘TRIP’, oil on canvas



The NZ Art Show wishes to thank the following for their support.