Peata Larkin’s paintings operate at the junction of diverse visual and conceptual traditions. Cultural narratives from her Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and Ngāti Tuhourangi background are encoded in patterns that allude to digital information, binary opposites, and the gridlines of weaving.
At the heart of Larkin’s practice is the use of paint in a way that exploits its physical properties in order to illustrate the artist’s chosen concepts. According to a set pattern, paint is pushed through holes in mesh or plexiglass from the reverse to create painterly ‘pixels’ on the surface of each work. Seen up close, Larkin’s works are tactile and sculptural; they emphasise the materiality of the medium she uses. As distance is placed between the viewer and the work, these individual elements come into focus as part of an overall pattern. The painting’s reading shifts from an exploration of painterly process, form, and plasticity to a matrix containing specific information to be decoded.
This shift from concrete to abstract illustrates the socio-cultural dualities that Larkin continues to explore. She draws from twentieth-century theories of abstraction in painting and at the same time uses patterns which are layered with meaning and firmly embedded within te ao Māori. Recent works have explored the way in which Western scientific traditions fit with the holistic celestial knowledge of Māori navigators.
Peata Larkin (b.1973) is of Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and Ngāti Tuhourangi descent. A graduate of the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, she completed her Master’s degree at RMIT University, Melbourne in 2007. In 2018 Larkin was awarded the prestigious Kaipara Wallace Arts Trust Award, which provides a three-month residency at the Altes Spital in Solothurn, Switzerland. Her work is part of important collections both internationally and throughout New Zealand including the Memphis Museum of Fine Arts in USA.