Johnson Witehira’s exhibition “Ko Aotearoa Tenei! This is New Zealand!” opened at Toi Pōneke Gallery last night.
An artist and graphic designer of Māori and Pakeha descent, Witehira’s gallery explores the conflicting ideas of identity, searching in particular for a common ground between his two cultures. His inspiration of uniting two aspects to create unity for his exhibition is also mirrored in the techniques he uses to produce his art.
“Digital art in terms of Māori art has always struggled to get recognition because it doesn’t have a whakapapa, it doesn’t have a lineage, so it’s not recognised in the same way as carving or ta moko.”
The portraits are a modern interpretation of pou-tahahu, a type of carved pillar seen on marae, and combine carved forms with new patterns
Witehira told Fairfax “”That’s exactly what I am trying to do – it is really to try and bring the two cultures together. In order to do that, I am producing art that reflects how the two cultures look at the world.”
His artworks include Captain Cook with the Southern Cross in his eyes and Helen Clark sporting a moko.
Ko Aotearoa Tanei! This is New Zealand! exhibition runs from 22 June – 14 July 2012 at Toi Pōneke Gallery in Wellington.