Lucinda Bennett

  • George Watson, They are cruel, 2021, HD video, color, sound, 4 minutes 32 seconds.

    George Watson

    Is New Zealand a backwater or a paradise? The answer is not, and has never been, simple. For modernist writer Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923), still arguably the country’s most famous export, it was both, as it likely was for many colonial settlers oscillating between feelings of exile and dominion.

    The two works in “tiro, Emepaea” (Girl, Empire), the recent exhibition by George Watson (of Ngāti Porou, Moriori, and Ngāti Mutunga heritage), were based on one of Mansfield’s early stories, “Summer Idyll” (1907). With each piece installed in its own adjoining gallery, and the layout of Te Uru

  • Christina Pataialii, Proximity and Distance, 2021, acrylic and house paint on canvas drop cloths and wall. Installation view. Photo: Sam Hartnett.

    Christina Pataialii

    While Christina Pataialii has always used house paint as a medium alongside acrylic, she has never applied it quite so literally as in “Proximity and Distance”: She painted directly onto the two largest walls of Tauranga Art Gallery’s cavernous atrium, as well as on sections of painters’ drop cloth that had been stapled to the wall. While many painters would be put off by the sheer size of the space, Pataialii seemed comfortable with the scale. Compositionally, the two main walls functioned as smaller works that had been scaled up, with none of the artist’s usual level of detail lost but with

  • Ammon Ngakuru, Kindergarten, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 9 3/4 x 7. 3/4".
    picks May 06, 2021

    Ammon Ngakuru

    Ammon Ngakuru’s exhibition “Pumice” centers around Silver (my slow response) (all works 2021), a broken sword and a tiny stone set on a shallow white plinth. The artist bought the weapon online, where it was listed as an 1827 officer’s sword. Blade dull and missing a hilt, the sword is no longer useful, but by placing it on a plinth, Ngakuru transforms it into an object of contemplation: a signifier of violence turned placid, like a once-savage general softened in old age.

    Ngakuru’s work is so subtle it could almost be called evasive. His paintings recall pages lifted from children’s books. Real

  • Ralph Hotere, Black Phoenix, 1984–88, burnt wood, metal. Installation view.

    Ralph Hotere

    “Ātete (to resist),” the first posthumous retrospective of one of New Zealand’s most significant modern artists, Ralph Hotere (1931–2013)—which after closing in Dunedin is now on view at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu¯—attempts to track the shimmering line of Hotere’s practice, not through a strictly chronological presentation but by loosely clumping together works with similar concerns. The show traces a subtle journey from pure forms of abstraction toward more overtly political pieces.

    Hotere’s breakthrough work was the celebrated Black Paintings, 1968. In each of the seven panels,

  • View of “Obaachan during the lockdown, Wahiawā, Hawai’i,” 2020–21.
    picks January 18, 2021

    Claudia Kogachi

    For her solo exhibition “Obaachan during the lockdown, Wahiawā, Hawai’i,” Claudia Kogachi responds to the complex social conditions of a Covid-impacted world with a trio of large, tufted rugs. In each work, Kogachi depicts her obaachan (grandmother) absorbed in some everyday task: rolling musubi (spam sushi), cleaning out the freezer, and barbecuing kalbi (Korean short ribs). Rather than make a traditional portrait of her obaachan, or reproduce the square format of their daily Skype calls, Kogachi models her rugs after photographs taken when the two were last able to meet in the flesh, before