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11 November 2022

Pacific artists represent at Aotearoa Art Fair

Tuesday 7 March 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Art, Features


Pacific artists represent at Aotearoa Art Fair
Artists Raymond Sagapolutele, Sylvia Marsters, Telly Tuita and Benjamin Work. SUPPLIED/23030711

Bergman Gallery’s New Zealand-based artists Telly Tuita, Sylvia Marsters, Raymond Sagapolutele and Benjamin Work are reconnecting with each other and with the thousands of visitors at the Aotearoa Art Fair.

“This year’s art fair has had an unprecedented showing of Pacific artists from Tonga, Samoa, Niue and of course the Cook Islands. We are very encouraged to see this long overdue representation of major Pacific artists,” says Ben Bergman, gallery director.

Work by Pacific artists is notable throughout art fair: John Pule at Gow Langsford Gallery, Stone Maka at Scott Lawrie Gallery, Andy Leleisiuao at Milford Galleries and ARTIS Gallery, Cora-Allan Lafaiki Twiss at Bartley & Company Art, Tui Emma Gillies and Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows at Masterworks Gallery, and Niu Lemalu at Vunilagi Vou.

Bergman Gallery is again the only representative from the Pacific Islands, in this the sixth year the gallery has been selected for the art fair.

Works by Benjamin Work and Mahiriki Tangaroa. 23030710

The gallery booth is hard to miss, visitors greeted by Tuita’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as they enter The Cloud. Inside the booth Tuita’s work is front and centre - his new series, The Immortal Tango of Love and War, a re-imagining of Mars, the Roman God of War, and Venus, the opposing God of Love, and an accompanying series of paintings – all exposing the dark and light of humanity in Tuita’s Tongpop world.

Works by Mahiriki Tangaroa, Sagapolutele, Work and Marsters fill the rest of the booth. They include Tangaroa’s paintings newly returned to the southern hemisphere following her 2022 exhibition, Kaveinga – Angels of the Ocean, at Personal Structures in Venice; Sagapolutele’s diptych Ma’umaga, a continuation of his ancestor theme, looking at ma’umaga (plantations) as a nurturing space where knowledge is handed down; Work’s large canvas, Statutory Conflict, Tau, Tau, Tau, informed by a Belgian sketch from the 1800’s depicting a Tongan warrior in face paint and Marsters’ new take on the familiar colour and shape of kaute where the artist challenges the viewer to “change how we look at flowers – a change of perspective”.

Former New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Nick Hurley, Ben Bergman and Christina Hurley.  SUPPLIED/23030712

The 2023 art fair is the first in years to run as planned, held over four days from March 2-5 in Tāmaki Makaurau. The lineup includes 40 galleries from six countries with work from more than 150 artists.

“After six live editions and one virtual (due to Covid), following the 2023 Fair, the event will change hands and ownership from North Port Events, to become part of The Assembly Group - a collection of Art Fairs owned by Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus,” says Hayley White, Fair Director.

“Looking towards the future, and in an effort to build upon the foundations that we have laid, I’m pleased we are handing over the reins to a company with a greater international footprint and relationships across the globe that will only benefit the Fair and our partner galleries.”

Coinciding with the art fair is Pride & Prejudice, Part 1, a group show at Bergman Gallery Tāmaki Makaurau running until March 22. The show features work by Heather Straka, Oliver Cain, Raymond Sagapolutele, Lucas Grogan, Luke Thurgate, Sione Monū and Louie Bretaña.