Acrylic on wood
1750 x 1100mm
The year 2020 has been marked by environmental, health, and social crises, many growing out of long-standing systemic problems. Ngataiharuru Taepa’s Whitiwhiti Ora responds to the state of tumult. Its pale colours echo those of the morning sky, while also alluding to kōwhaiwhai in a number of older whare, particularly in Te Urewera. The pītau forms are more immediately organic than those found in earlier works by Taepa, connecting strongly with elements of the natural world—whether fern fronds, clouds, waves, or unfurling embryos. The fluidity of the design answers the rigidity of the interlocking pieces of wood that make up the work. Relatively low tonal contrast balances the hyper-hard edges, and produces a subtle effect of back-lighting. Whitiwhiti Ora resists fixing in space and time, feeling by turns solid and porous, stable and generative, age-mellowed and crisply fresh. It affirms the cyclical return of the calm and potentiated dawn—not disconnected from the day before, but not immutably bound by it either.
Ngataiharuru Taepa, Kia Āio Te Whenua, Page Galleries, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 20 August to 12 September 2020