Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Parekowhai Installation

AA
View Discussion
Michael Parekowhai, Autumn Winds, 2015, aluminium, automotive paint, oak, 208 x 89 x 370 cm Michael Parekowhai, 2015, Do you feel the way I do?, 2015, aluminium, automotive paint, oak, brass, 224 x 70 x 46 cm Installation of Michael Parekowhai's Rules of the Game exhibition at Michael Lett Gallery Michael Parekowhai, Over the Rainbow, 2015, fibreglass, automotive paint, 42 x 17 x 10.5 cm Michael Parekowhai, Over the Rainbow, 2015, fibreglass, automotive paint, 42 x 17 x 10.5 cm Michael Parekowhai, Over the Rainbow, 2015, fibreglass, automotive paint, 42 x 17 x 10.5 cm Michael Parekowhai, Rules of the Game, 2015, neon, LED light bulbs, aluminium, automotive paint, 158 x 569 cm

Just before you reach the landing, there appears to be a cluster of parallel spears protruding through the doorway, like lances from Athenian warriors in the Peloponnesian War. They are held up in a ‘defensive' position by being threaded through a leaning school table that doubles as a shield. If you squeeze past them and enter Lett's library you can see more wallpaper and several garish Axminster rugs on the floor with floral arabesques and hot colours…

Auckland

 

Michael Parekowhai
Rules of the Game

 

13 November - 19 December 2016

 

In this clever two-part installation (upstairs library and downstairs gallery) we see a Michael Parekowhai project that conceptually connects up a number of works he has presented on earlier occasions in other spaces. The title references a satirical Jean Renoir film (1939) famous for its matter-of -fact (ie. brutal) rabbit hunt, a section which Parekowhai presents on video as a sort of ‘revenge of the colonised’ - tied in with his earlier stuffed rabbits, sparrows and inflatable McMurtrie as signifiers for rapidly breeding invaders. The neon sign saying ‘Closed’, displayed high up on scaffolding so it lights up East Street at night, can mean closed gallery (don’t come in), closed country, closed society (in wealth distribution) or closed minds.

The gallery section involves a high wall of scaffolding, the elaborately decorative sign (in the multi-font style of Jack Pierson), three large sections of comparatively tasteful wallpaper and 21 fibreglass sculptures of ‘Magritte men’: each commuter with bowler hat, brolly and briefcase. Nine are brightly coloured, a dozen ‘dreamers’ are in grey; some are facing out, the rest are turned into the wall (ignoring the world and its suffering: there’s a clear political dimension).

Upstairs the mood is even more confrontational. Just before you reach the landing, there appears to be a cluster of parallel spears protruding through the doorway, like lances from Athenian warriors in the Peloponnesian War. They are held up in a ‘defensive’ position by being threaded through a leaning school table that doubles as a shield. If you squeeze past them and enter Lett’s library you can see more wallpaper (a symbol for ‘covering over’ perhaps?) and several garish Axminster rugs on the floor with floral arabesques and hot colours. Positioned on them are four school chairs, remade with brass legs and oak backs, again (like the desk) impaled by aluminium pick-up sticks / spears. Seemingly a comment on the nation’s education (and social mobility) system.

So the show’s heading - Renoir’s title? What’s that about in Parekowhai’s context? The rules of the art (sales /academic credibility) game; the social hierarchy (maybe not Māori versus Pakeha, but within Māori, within Pakeha) game; the pick-up sticks (acquiring assets) game?

I think this is a really intriguing, poetical, exhibition, maybe the best show Parekowhai has done. I like its physical and conceptual layering, its deft use of appropriated language, and the growing sense of cohesion that slowly dawns on you, especially when referencing similar works that have been shown before. There’s a peculiar symmetry of violence with the tilted spears in the besieged place of learning above, and Renoir’s upper middleclass hunting party (and Magritte’s vacillating bankers) below.

There is also a Duchampian smirk at visual vulgarity and elegance together, a strong sense of irony mocking both excessive ornamentation and tasteful restraint, switching the interior décor codes of erudition and commerce where one is architecturally above the other. Parekowhai is mischievous and openly slippery, unexpectedly clamping opposites tightly together, while tugging at the rug of assumptions that is positioned under your feet as soon as you step through the door.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Installation of Contemporary Wood-Carved Netsuke at Te Uru. Toured by The Japan Foundation. Photo by Sam Hartnett

Intricately Carved Netsuke

TE URU

Titirangi

 

Assorted Japanese artisans and artists
Contemporary Wood-Carved Netsuke

27 June - 2 August 2020

JH
Installation shot (detail) of Shaun Thomas McGill's 'Durham Street West [Men’s Convenience]' 2020 at  Papatūnga. Photo: Courtesy of Papatūnga.

Debut of New Parnell Project Space

PAPATŪNGA

Auckland

 

Shaun Thomas McGill
Durham St West [Men’s Convenience]


18 July - 30 July 2020

JH
An image of Tom and his keeper.

Elephant Empathy

RM

Auckland

 

Matilda Fraser
His trunk for a hand, and his foot for a scythe

 

8 July - 25 July 2020

JH
(UN)Registered Savages of Aotearoa, Hair to Stay, 2019, installation view, eight photographs of ulu cavu in British collections. Photo by Sam Hartnett

Fijian Wigs and Masks

TE TUHI CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

Pakuranga

 

(UN)Registered Savages of Aotearoa (Daren Kamali & Ole Maiava)
Mata Makawa - Mata Vou



23 May - 16 August 2020