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b. 1964, New Zealand

Shane Cotton Biography

Shane Cotton is one of New Zealand’s leading and most celebrated contemporary artists. He was born in Upper Hutt, New Zealand in 1964, and has a BFA from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was a lecturer in the Maori Visual Arts Programme at Massey University until 2005.

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Of dual Maori (Ngati Rangi, Ngati Hine, Te Uri Taniwha) and Pakeha (European) descent, his iconography borrows widely from both Pakeha and Maori historical sources. Cotton employs a complex set of symbols across his works to speak to contemporary issues of colonisation, cross-cultural exchange, identity and spirituality.

Shane Cotton is key to a generation of young Maori artists who came to prominence in the 1990s for their innovative use of non-traditional materials and processes, while directly addressing concerns of importance to Maori. This generation, including his contemporaries, Michael Parekowhai and Peter Robinson and others, brought a new vision to contemporary art in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and in particular Maori visual art.

Cotton’s characteristic flattened picture plane allows for complex topographies, which also refer to layered and shifting understandings of landscape. In doing so he refers to land ownership and differing understandings of the natural world: from European concepts of the land as something to be divided and sold as property, or for the purpose of economic production, to the earth possessing a spirit in Maori cosmology.

Cotton first established a visual vocabulary in the 1990s that he has gone on to rework inventively for several decades. Recurring motifs include ships, stars, flags, potted plants, birds, chairs, tea pots, cups and architectural structures, evidence of the artist’s interest in the fertile tensions at play in interactions between the native and the introduced, the colonised and the coloniser.

Cotton’s work has been included in many international projects such as Turbulence, The 3rd Auckland Triennial (2007), Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacific, Asia Society Museum, New York (2004), and he was New Zealand’s representative at the Prague Biennial in 2005. His work was surveyed in a major retrospective exhibition at City Gallery Wellington and Auckland Art Gallery in 2003.

He has also received numerous awards, notably the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship (1998), made a Laureate of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand (2008), and received an ONZM for services to the Visual arts in the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours. Cotton lives and works in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Shane Cotton Featured Artworks

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Sun Shots by Shane Cotton contemporary artwork
Shane CottonSun Shots, 2019acrylic on paper
76 x 56 cm
Michael Lett Contact Gallery
Slow Sun by Shane Cotton contemporary artwork
Shane CottonSlow Sun, 2019acrylic on paper
76 x 56 cm
Michael Lett Contact Gallery
Ra Whiti Roa (study) by Shane Cotton contemporary artwork
Shane CottonRa Whiti Roa (study), 2019acrylic on paper
76 x 56 cm
Michael Lett Contact Gallery
Sun Shot (study) by Shane Cotton contemporary artwork
Shane CottonSun Shot (study), 2019acrylic on paper
76 x 56 cm
Michael Lett Contact Gallery
Patchwork with Smoke by Shane Cotton contemporary artwork
Shane CottonPatchwork with Smoke, 2014Acrylic on Steinbach paper
50 x 35 cm
Hamish McKay Enquire
Diamond IV by Shane Cotton contemporary artwork
Shane CottonDiamond IV, 2014Acrylic on Steinbach paper
100 x 70 cm
Hamish McKay Enquire
Old Plant, New Smoke by Shane Cotton contemporary artwork
Shane CottonOld Plant, New Smoke, 2015Acrylic on linen
100 x 75 cm
Hamish McKay Enquire
Blood Lines by Shane Cotton contemporary artwork
Shane CottonBlood Lines, 2014Acrylic on paper
70 x 100 cm
Michael Lett Contact Gallery

Shane Cotton Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Black White at Hamish McKay, Wellington
Closed
14 December 2019–25 January 2020 Group Exhibition Black White Hamish McKayWellington
Contemporary art exhibition, Shane Cotton, Sun Portrait at Michael Lett, Auckland
Closed
13 November–14 December 2019 Shane Cotton Sun Portrait Michael LettAuckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Modern Nature at Michael Lett, Auckland
Closed
14 May–15 June 2019 Group Exhibition Modern Nature Michael LettAuckland

Shane Cotton Represented By

Hamish McKay contemporary art gallery in Wellington, New Zealand Hamish McKay Wellington
Michael Lett contemporary art gallery in Auckland, New Zealand Michael Lett Auckland

Shane Cotton In Ocula Magazine

Wellington’s City Gallery May Lose Senior Staff Ocula News Wellington’s City Gallery May Lose Senior Staff Wellington, 26 May 2021

The city's mayor said a proposed restructure could compromise the gallery's ability to attract and present major exhibitions.

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Auckland Lowdown: Shows to See Ocula Feature Auckland Lowdown: Shows to See By Sam Gaskin, Auckland

During the Auckland Art Fair, a host of intriguing exhibitions are being mounted around the city.

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Taika Waititi Narrates Video Launching Major Māori Art Show Ocula News Taika Waititi Narrates Video Launching Major Māori Art Show Auckland, 7 December 2020

The video was created by Chelsea Winstanley, director of a forthcoming documentary on the sprawling survey of Māori contemporary art.

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Sydney Summer Report Ocula Feature Sydney Summer Report By Rachel Fuller, Sydney

When Silence Falls
 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 
19 December 2015 - 1 May 2016 Currently showing in the contemporary galleries of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, When Silence Falls is a collection-based, group exhibition curated by AGNSW curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Cara Pinchbeck....

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In Ocula Advisory

Art Basel OVR Highlights: Lucio Fontana Advisory Pick Art Basel OVR Highlights: Lucio Fontana 29 October 2020

Known as the father of Spatialism, Argentine-Italian artist Fontana worked with a variety of materials and techniques to experiment with and pioneer conceptual limits in art.

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Shane Cotton In Related Press

Artists in residence: Where artists find their happy place Related Press Artists in residence: Where artists find their happy place 23 May 2018, The New Zealand Herald

Auckland Art Fair puts the spotlight on this city as a place to see the best in contemporary art from the Pacific Rim. Dionne Christian asks some of the artists what 'place' means to them — in particular the space they work in.

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The Occupation Of Emptiness Related Press The Occupation Of Emptiness 18 December 2014, TJ McNamara for The New Zealand Herald / 13 December 2014

In the Christmas flourish of exhibitions one of the biggest names is Shane Cotton. His show called Blank Geometry is at the Michael Lett gallery. It is an exhibition that does not aim at grandeur but rather a quiet tracing of ideas. The work is of modest size and though everything is done with a subtle skill, the subject is very open.

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