Last week I enjoyed visiting Michael Parekowhai’s exhibition ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer‘. Originally New Zealand’s exhibit in the Venice Biennale 2011, it has made its New Zealand debut in the “Red Zone” of Christchurch.
Michael Parekowhai is one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary artists. Born in Porirua in 1968 his work is held in private and public collections in many parts of the world.
There are three large scale works which make up the sculptural aspect of the Christchurch exhibition. Firstly, a wonderfully carved red Steinway concert grand piano (covered with automotive paint and incorporating inlays of brass, mother of pearl and paua), which was played throughout the exhibition. Sitting quietly, listening and enjoying the music was an integral part of the experience as I admired the detailed intricacy of the work, which bears the Title: He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: story of a New Zealand river.
Walking to the window offered a view of the other aspect of the exhibition. Standing in the ruins of the central business district, in stark contrast to their original Venetian setting, two grand pianos fabricated in bronze support two massively casted bronze bulls.
The unusual titles of these two works and the Exhibition as a whole are taken from the title of a poem by the English poet, John Keats.
For further consideration of Michael Parekowhai’s own thoughts on these works, click on Chapman’s Homer.
Grateful thanks to the artist and everyone who helped to bring Michael’s exhibition to Christchurch. A most uplifting experience!