Shane Cotton

Mori Gallery

Shane Cotton’s paintings replay the perpetual collision between Maori and Pakeha (white) cultures. A New Zealander who aggressively asserts his Maori ancestry, Cotton creates wild, at times biblical images in which the signs—icons, words, maps, and numbers—of indigenous and immigrant cultures coexist, dominate, and interact, as each is forced to adapt in order to survive.

Criss-crossed with diagrams and notations, Cotton’s pictures resemble worn road maps of a border zone that is clearly difficult to negotiate. They include overlays and borders in which innumerable collisions take place, typically between land and language. Often, two or more navigating systems are managed at once. Since the paintings grapple with a history (the interaction between Maoris and white settlers) that is complex, violent, exotic, and tragic, it’s no wonder these pictures are weirdly comical—at once hyperactive

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