By exploring Paratene Matchitt’s exhibition Hui, students will understand the innovation and invention that led him to become one of New Zealand’s iconic artists. The programme consists of a discussion and hands-on activity.
Workshop: Students create a human figure inspired by the sculptures. Students collaborate with each other and will co-present their final works with a concept based on the idea of Hui.
Paratene Matchitt is one of New Zealand’s most prominent senior artists. Matchitt’s 60-year career has seen his work in most public art gallery collections in this country. Paratene has a reputation for breaking with tradition, for innovation, and for invention.
From the 1930s artists recognised the need for an expressly New Zealand school of art that was distinct from the modernist conventions travelling here from Europe and America. Efforts to create this New Zealand language were complicated by the space existing between Māori and Pākehā art. Early on in the piece Pākehā artists were absorbing or appropriating Māori iconography, a predictable development in a search for a national artistic identity. Paratene’s willingness to incorporate European influences into his own work is described by some academics as testimony to a ‘Māori Modernism’, or by others as a ‘Māori Primitivism’. It is most certainly the case that Paratene draws from multiple artistic sources, bringing them together in a complex amalgam.
Following the Second World War, Department of Education encouraged a generation of Māori artists to draw on their cultural traditions in developing modernist art. Para was employed as an art adviser by the department and began to follow the suggestion. Para drew particular inspiration from the great Spanish modernist Pablo Picasso. He applied Picasso’s style to the representation of traditional stories such as the separation of Rangi and Papa.
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