This exhibition of paintings and drawings by Ralph Hotere, spans the years between the early 1970s to early 2000s. The exhibition represents the diversity of what Hotere has achieved. It showcases some of the highlights, from a long career that is exemplified by a politico-social consciousness and a sense of responsibility: Implicitly, the need and desire to have a voice and to express opinion.
Avignon (1978) was painted during a trip to Avignon in France in 1978 with poet Cilla McQueen. It was during this time that the Pope Paul IV died, the news of which dominated the media and the conversations in France. Hotere, having been educated at a Catholic boys high school, has incorporated the beauty and mystery of this Europeanism into his work.
Painted within a window frame, Aramoana Sunrise - Black Window (1982) is a major work representing a critical period in Hotere’s career. Based at Hotere’s studio over looking Aramoana before the studio was demolished, the painting captures the fleeting aspect of all things, and the tragedy and anger around certain kinds of change. There is a clear autobiographical insertion here, made via text and other emblems and the incorporation of a window frame to represent the artists studio and his ‘view’ from there.
There are several very significant drawings in this exhibition. Woman (1970) and Seated Nude Arms Raised (1971) represent a period in Hotere’s career for which there is not much work remaining of such a high standard. These delicate works show a meditative simplicity.
Blue Skin Bay is another drawing that highlights the mastery of simplicity, gesture, and tone that Hotere had by the 1990s, resolved into a stylised and seemingly effortless process. At a time of great production in his career, certain works stand out as being exemplary, and this is one of them. The cross shape has religious and humanistic qualities for Hotere, and is a shape that connects. It signifies juncture as well as many issues around life, struggle, and redemption not only of the religious kind.