Group exhibition at City Gallery big on scale and ambition

City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi’s upcoming exhibition Matarau responds to our turbulent times and explores the role that art can play in navigating new found complexities of everyday life.

Matarau is a group exhibition of contemporary Māori art, guest curated by Walters Prize-winning Pōneke artist, writer and curator, Shannon Te Ao. It features all new work made by Robyn Kahukiwa, Emily Karaka, Hemi Macgregor, Ming Ranginui, Kei te pai press, and James Tapsell-Kururangi.

Te Ao describes the exhibition as “visually fun—big on scale and ambition. Matarau follows a number of exhibitions in Aotearoa that are highlighting the significance of Māori art—this is part of that bigger picture.”

The word Matarau refers to a multi-pronged spear used for fishing and eeling by early Māori. As a hunter or wayfinder must understand the shifting conditions around them to fulfill their purpose; the artists in Matarau draw from a strong sense of who and where they are as a compass for their own practice.

Te Ao says, “Historically, art has acted as a lens in which to help understand the world more clearly, and as our daily lives become more unpredictable, contemporary artists offer a vital way to comprehend this turbulent time.”

The exhibition includes new, large-scale works exploring themes from politics and economic mobility, to the environment, whakapapa and love. There are new paintings from well known artists Robyn Kahukiwa, Emily Karaka and Hemi Macgregor.

Ming Ranginui reimagines a car as a home, pimped out in her distinctive pop style. Tapsell-Kururangi’s film explores his whānau connection to Moutohorā (Whale Island), while indigenous-led education and publishing initiative Kei te pai press are producing a reader republishing a selection of Māori writing from the last two centuries. The reader will be freely available for the audience to take away.

Photo by Elias Rodriguez

Te Ao says the artists, all at different stages of their careers, have resonated strongly with the themes of the exhibition.

“This show displays a range of responses to the present day, touching on the uncertainty we have collectively endured these past few years.”

Art and Heritage Director Elizabeth Caldwell says City Gallery is delighted to stage this visually generous exhibition which brings together emerging and established artists across the generations.

“Matarau is noteworthy in that it is curated by and carries the artistic sensibility of Te Ao—one of our most prominent contemporary artists—and is strongly grounded in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.’ Matarau is accompanied by Tai Timu! Tai Pari! The Tide Ebbs, the Tide Flows—a collection of recent artists’ film and video curated by Te Ao, in collaboration with CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand.

The works respond to indigenous histories and current discourse through an array of filmic languages. They explore issues such as language revitalisation, the commodification of natural resources, indigenous representation within film histories, and queer narratives. Tai Timu! Tai Pari! will be screened in the gallery auditorium.

Matarau and Tai Timu! Tai Pari! can be seen at City Gallery Wellington from 30 April—14 August 2022.

Entry is free, visit here for more information.

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