John Hurrell – 15 October, 2013
This is a richly allusive exhibition, and one wonders how Arapere, a graduate from Massey University School of Māori Visual Arts in Palmerston North, would respond to a larger venue. He is obviously highly talented, having a real flair for compelling three dimensional form covered with striking graphics and intricate moko pattern, so this wee show is for Auckland a taster - an introduction.
Curated by Rachel Forbes
18 September - 16 October 2013
This suite of two sculptures and four drawings by Rewiti Arapere - made with (and on) cardboard or heavy brown paper - can be found in the Corner window gallery, at the intersection of Karangahape Rd and Edinburgh St. The display fascinates because of its hybridity, using tradition as well as the contemporary, merging global and local together.
Although the artist is Māori (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) the stylistic favour of the work is a blending of Māori, Hawaiian, and American First Peoples (Canadian) - the latter exploiting profile - especially in the drawings on paper. Arapere’s graphic style links to the tradition of legendary comic artists like Jack Kirby, and other genres like manga, depicting the flora and fauna of the forest as well as mixing (in the sculptural idiom) battery toys such as robots. There is even a hint of Philip Trusttum, another artist known for his inventive eclecticism.
Having Arapere’s works in a window display is the perfect mode of exposure, because with their references to Hape, an influential Manukau chief, they are site specific, being located on Karangahape Rd, a ridge that was used in pre-European times for visiting him. Arapere’s folded (and drawn on) cardboard sculptures are based on carved pou, and the green gecko in the figure’s mouth alludes I suspect to a Tainui (Waikato) marae where the carvings also feature such a gecko, and to Hape’s links as tohunga to the Tainui waka.
This small but dynamic show was initiated by Rachelle Forbes (Ngāti Hikairo, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Māhanga, Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Tahinga, Tainui). Rachelle was selected as the 2013 Curatorial Intern for Corner by Rob Garrett from the AUT Masters of Arts Management Programme.
This is a richly allusive exhibition, and one wonders how Arapere, a graduate from Massey University School of Māori Visual Arts in Palmerston North, would respond to a larger venue. He is obviously highly talented, having a real flair for compelling three dimensional form covered with striking graphics and intricate moko pattern, so this wee show is for Auckland a taster - an introduction. And Forbes’ conceptual input here is vital, drawing on both her and Arapere’s ancestral links to Tainui waka.
Just as the ‘Karangahape Road’ ridge was a useful means for trade and commerce it is fitting that this art is largely made of cardboard, the stuff of contemporary cartons, a means for transport and storage. A nice resolution of material, style and idea.
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