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Robyn Kahukiwa "Tangata Whenua"

Dates: 24 Mar, 2015 - 11 Apr, 2015 As a staunch supporter of traditional culture and history Robyn Kahukiwa has revived, revitalized and preserved many aspects of ...

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Dates: 24 Mar, 2015 – 11 Apr, 2015

As a staunch supporter of traditional culture and history Robyn Kahukiwa has revived, revitalized and preserved many aspects of Maoritanga through her various art forms and mark making.

One characteristic of important artists is often their ability to work on a large scale and in a variety of medium.  Kahukiwa has successfully achieved this throughout her long and diverse artistic career completing large marae commissions (eg. “Hine Pukenga”), to illustrations for several books (eg. “Nga Atua” 2012)

In the course of this journey the artist has also displayed a remarkable ability with drawing and design.  While this is a notable strength of Kahukiwa’s work there exists a further element worthy of acknowledgment.  This relates to control over a much reduced palette.  This is clearly evident in paintings such as “Hongi”, “Pou” and “Wahine me Tui”.  In “Hongi” a chiaroscuro effect reflects a sensitive and intimate greeting, while in “Pou” the almost monochromatic finish serves to enhance the strong sculptural appearance of the gate or marae post figures.

Paintings such a “He Wahine He Tane”, Wahine me Pounamu” and “He Wahine” also bring a freshness and clarity to this exhibition “Tangata Whenua”. The strength and inspirational appearance of the youthful figures depicted here deliver a bright and potent spirit to the exhibition.

In “Tangata Whenua (Still Here)” the artist has incorporated almost symbolic imagery into the work, symbols which represent traditional Maori objects such as Hei Tiki, Whare, waka, maunga etc).  The imagery is reinforced with supporting text which expands growing in stature towards the figure head below.

In the painting “Nga Tamariki a Tane” (the children of Tane), the artist explains “ this narrative shows the bones of our ancestors, a living wahine and the extinct Huia bird with a living Tieke (Saddle back) which is a relation of the Huia. All are placed on Papatuanuku the earth mother, with Matariki (Pleaides) shown on Ranginui the sky father Tane, the son of Papatuanuku and Ranginui, was responsible for creating birds and people and he placed the stars on the body of his father after he separated them and let in the light, Te Ao Marama”.

Text by Warwick Henderson, Mar 2015

 

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