Michael Hight’s Taramakau River portrays a land that may appear empty at first glance, but whose richness is revealed in the nuances of his brushwork, the strength of his composition and the subtleties of his conversation about the very nature of the land and our relationship to it. Power poles follow the natural lines of the gorge, acting as visual signposts for the eye to rest upon. The sharp lines and regular geometry of the hives are obviously at odds with the weathered mountain tops, soft bush outlines and meandering river shingle, yet do not seem out of place due to Hight’s use of tones that mimic the natural surroundings.
The silhouetted profiles seen in Andy Leleisi’uao’s Rainbolic paintings create cavernous mindscapes inhabited by creatures that are borne of dreams or nightmares. Each painting is linked by common motifs of horned and winged beings, rainbow speckles and glowing red hearts, creating a powerful and complex narrative stream for Leleisi’uao’s invented world. Reminiscent of rock drawings, hieroglyphs and shadow-paintings, the universality of his forms tap into our own humanity and the histories that underlie it.
As well as winning the 2012 Wallace Arts Trust Paramount Award, Shigeyuki Kihara was awarded a Next Generation Award by the New Zealand Arts Foundation in October. The works on display in this exhibition are from two bodies of work produced in 2004-5: Vavau: Tales of Ancient Samoa and Fa’a Fafine: In a Manner of a Woman. Kihara’s self-portraits confront the viewer with issues of the colonial and post-colonial gaze, gender identities and European constructs of ‘the other’.
Over the past decade, Reuben Paterson has firmly established himself as one of New Zealand’s most exciting contemporary artists. He uses his glitter paintings to examine ideas of self-identity, ways of seeing and the social fabrics found in New Zealand. As well as addressing historical and contemporary issues surrounding land use, Owharoa suggests the role of water as a cleansing medium in Maori cultural practices. The waterfall itself is from the Karangahake Gorge, part of the rohe (land, region) specific to Paterson’s iwi. His textile-patterned works are inspired in part by fabrics worn by his mother and grandmother; Paterson states that the “patterns and fabrics represent our genealogy” (1) and as such views them as much a part of his whakapapa as the kowhaiwhai patterns and carvings from his father’s wharenui.
Neil Dawson is one of New Zealand’s most successful sculptors on both the national and international stage. He tricks the viewers’ eyes into seeing smooth, swirling curves where there exist straight lines and multiple angles. His precise use of fractal images in the Vortex works draws the gaze over and again into the centre of the work, the illusion of movement enhanced by the curvature of the sculpture’s surface. The smaller Swirls reverse this effect as the motifs expand out from a singular starting point.
1. Dan Chappell, “Diamond Dust and Ancestral Stories,” Art News, Spring 2011, Vol 31 #3, pp 74-77