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‘An Opera for Animals’ at Rockbund Art Museum Ocula Report ‘An Opera for Animals’ at Rockbund Art Museum 19 Jul 2019 : Penny Liu for Ocula

An Opera for Animals was first staged at Para Site in Hong Kong between 23 March and 2 June 2019, with works by over 48 artists and collectives that use opera as a metaphor for modes of contemporary, cross-disciplinary art-making. The exhibition's second iteration takes up a large portion of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai (22 June–25...

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Takashi Murakami on Collecting, Contracts, and Teamwork Ocula Conversation
In Collaboration with Tai Kwun Contemporary
Takashi Murakami on Collecting, Contracts, and Teamwork

For three months from 1 June to 1 September 2019, Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong showcases MURAKAMI vs MURAKAMI, a major survey exhibition of the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Curated by Tobias Berger, head of art at Tai Kwun, and Gunnar B Kvaran, director of Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, the exhibition spans the three floors of Tai Kwun's...

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Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House Ocula Report Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House 5 Jul 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House in London (12 June–15 September 2019) surveys more than half a century of black creativity in Britain and beyond across the fields of art, film, photography, music, design, fashion, and literature.Curated by Zak Ové, works by approximately 100 intergenerational black...

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Michael Parekowhai

b. 1968, New Zealand

Michael Parekowhai is an Auckland-based sculptor, photographer and installation artist of Māori (Ngā Ariki Kaiputahi, Ngāti Whakarongo) and Pakeha descent, highly regarded for his daring culturally thematic explorations, Pop (but conceptualist) accessibility, impeccable industrial finish and robust physical presence.

He is skilled at coming up with clever ideas presented in a form that engages with his audience visually (and emotionally) and which is ambitious in its studio production. The range of his interests—though usually community-oriented—startles with its unpredictability, extending from children's education, parlour games, music forms, introduced wildlife and cultural appropriation, to nuances and ambiguities of spoken language, recognisable art historical motifs and historical personages. When he links these assorted and often unrelated disciplines up, various spatial juxtapositions and ideational sandwiches are used with wit to bring vibrant resonances to his sculpture.

A good example of Parekowhai's art is his weatherboard state house sculpture, The Lighthouse (2017), which is positioned on Queen's Wharf in downtown Auckland. State houses are loathed by some New Zealanders and aesthetically adored by others for their 'basic' form. As a state-sponsored variety of cheap housing, the state house has come to be seen by many New Zealanders as a symbol of the political and social debate surrounding Auckland's housing crises, which saw the rise of forced evictions to make way for multi-dwelling apartments.

Parekowhai's provocative sculpture is a life-sized, two-storied dwelling with an outside staircase and balcony so that its upper and lower windows and porches can be peered into. It has no first floor but all the inner wall and ceiling surfaces are painted in glossy white. Inside is a giant stainless steel figure of Captain Cook sitting nervously on a table fixed to a tripod positioned in front of the fireplace. On different timers and strategically positioned around the walls—and straddling across windows on both levels—are hundreds of pieces of coloured neon tubing. As a constantly moving spidery network, these flashing glowing lines can be interpreted in several ways. Some seem to be parts of coastline from maps made around the Pacific. Others could refer to constellations in the southern night sky.

This spectacularly political work represents Parekowhai's particular knack for using art to open up space for a debate on government and corporate actions drawing attention to the communities they impact.

Educated at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, Parekowhai gained his BFA in 1990 and a MFA in 2000. A Professor now at Auckland University, he teaches at Elam. He has been exhibiting nationally and internationally for almost three decades, being a prolific solo presenter (usually with Michael Lett Gallery), one who has participated for example in Cultural Safety, City Galley Wellington and Frankfurter Kunstverin (1995); the Asia Pacific Triennial (2006-7); the Gwangju Biennale (2004); Sydney Biennale (2002); Headlands, MCA; Sydney (2002); and many major art fairs such as Art Basel (2006, 2007), LISTE (2007), and Hong Kong/Basel Art Fair (2016).

Parekowhai's many achievements include becoming an Arts Foundation Laureate in 2001; representing New Zealand (as sole artist) in the Venice Biennale with On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer in 2011; having a major survey of his work (The Promised Land) at GOMA in Brisbane in 2015, and installing the public sculpture (The Lighthouse) on the Auckland City waterfront in 2017. A major volume cataloguing Michael's practice was published by Michael Lett, Auckland in 2007 and the artist's work has been covered by numerous significant international art periodicals. He was the New Zealand representative artist at the 54th Venice Biennale, exhibiting the sculptural installation On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer.

Parekowhai's works are found in all the major New Zealand municipal and national collections, and in overseas institutions too, such as the Queensland Art Gallery. Because of the range of his cultural references, he is one of Aotearoa/New Zealand's most often discussed sculptors.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2019
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Featured Artworks

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Mimi III by Michael Parekowhai contemporary artwork
Michael ParekowhaiMimi III, 2018 Bronze, two elements
Michael Lett
La Tour by Michael Parekowhai contemporary artwork
Michael ParekowhaiLa Tour, 2008 Bronze
67 x 47 x 47 cm
Michael Lett
von Trapp by Michael Parekowhai contemporary artwork
Michael Parekowhaivon Trapp, 2017 Bronze
11 x 63 x 9.5 cm
Michael Lett
Kapa Haka (maquette) by Michael Parekowhai contemporary artwork
Michael ParekowhaiKapa Haka (maquette), 2015 Automotive paint on polyurethane
41 x 17 x 13 cm
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery
The Bosom of Abraham, #2 by Michael Parekowhai contemporary artwork
Michael ParekowhaiThe Bosom of Abraham, #2, 2004 Fluorescent bulb, Italian light fitting and screen printed vinyl
130 x 22 x 8 cm
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery
The Song of the Frog by Michael Parekowhai contemporary artwork
Michael ParekowhaiThe Song of the Frog, 2005 Automotive paint on fibreglass
30 x 240 x 60 cm
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery
The Moment of Cubism (Pallet) & Nude Descending a Staircase (Tree) by Michael Parekowhai contemporary artwork
Michael ParekowhaiThe Moment of Cubism (Pallet) & Nude Descending a Staircase (Tree), 2010 Hand-finished bronze, patina. Tree size: 120 x 45 x 45cm, Pallet size: 15 x 118 x 88cm.
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery
Constitution Hill by Michael Parekowhai contemporary artwork
Michael ParekowhaiConstitution Hill, 2011 Polychromed bronze
110 x 35 x 35 cm
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Michael Parekowhai, Stand By Me at Michael Lett, Auckland
Closed
5–22 December 2018 Michael Parekowhai Stand By Me Michael Lett, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Michael Parekowhai, When We Dream at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Closed
10 September–13 October 2018 Michael Parekowhai When We Dream Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Rock 'n' Roll, 30 years on ... at Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch
Closed
5 June–7 July 2018 Group Exhibition Rock 'n' Roll, 30 years on ... Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Maud Page Ocula Conversation Maud Page Deputy Director, Collections & Exhibitions at Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

Maud Page is Deputy Director, Collection and Exhibitions at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. Her position oversees all aspects of the Gallery’s curatorial activities, and is directly responsible for the management and development of the Gallery’s collections and exhibitions. She has been instrumental in the...

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In Related Press

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The surprising links between Brexit and Oceania art exhibition Related Press The surprising links between Brexit and Oceania art exhibition New Zealand Herald : 20 October 2018

The Telegraph described it as an "ambitious and astonishing exhibition" while Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones declared he didn't just like the art but wanted to live in the world it portrays. He also speculated that modernist masters like Picasso were more influenced by Oceanic art than we might have previously realised.The opening...

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Anonymous donor gives $500,000 to complete Auckland's 'Lighthouse' sculpture Related Press Anonymous donor gives $500,000 to complete Auckland's 'Lighthouse' sculpture New Zealand Herald : 1 September 2018

An anonymous arts donor wrote a cheque for $500,000 to complete the Lighthouse sculpture on Auckland's Queens Wharf when construction costs went through the roof.

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Te Papa's new art gallery Toi Art labelled a 'phenomenal creative success' Related Press Te Papa's new art gallery Toi Art labelled a 'phenomenal creative success' stuff : 16 March 2018

Te Papa's biggest change since opening 20 years ago has been revealed for the first time.Its new gallery space Toi Art is the equivalent of 15 tennis courts in size. It has increased the national museum's floor space for art by 35 per cent.

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In pictures: Encounters at Art Basel in Hong Kong Related Press In pictures: Encounters at Art Basel in Hong Kong The Art Newspaper : 24 March 2017

Space is paramount in the Encounters section of Art Basel in Hong Kong, where each large-scale installation occupies up to 100 square metres. But time is equally important to Alexie Glass-Kantor, the curator of Encounters for the third year running.

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