Benjamin Work, For King and Country, Opens June 9.

King and Country

Benjamin Work
For King and Country
Bergman Gallery, Taputapuatea, Rarotonga
June 9 – July 30

Exhibition opens June 9, 6pm.

Guest Speakers:
John Snowball, Manager CITC Liquor.
Halatoa Fua, CEO Cook Islands Tourism.
Benjamin Work, exhibiting artist.

Tongan/New Zealand artist Benjamin Work will present his exhibition For King and Country, 6pm, June 9 at Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga. First exhibited at the Mangere Arts Centre in 2015, this significant exhibition is a collaborative project between the artist and Bergman Gallery.

 For King and Country features 9 commanding paintings guarded by mythical Tongan warriors. The exhibition makes a direct appeal as to the importance of accurately scrutinizing early historical accounts.  For the artist, it reinforces the Tongan proverb that, ‘we walk forward into the past and backward into the future’ and what he feels is a need for this generation to build on their rich history from a Tongan perspective.

Benjamin Work has produced this exhibition in light of the large number of 18th and 19th century Tongan collections that he viewed in museums during a research trip to Europe and the United Kingdom. As a result of over a millennium of early encounters and exchanges over time and space, the bulk of Tonga’s early cultural treasures are all housed in museums overseas, a trait that is common to many pacific nations including the Cook Islands. Benjamin Work’s experience of being one of only a few Tongans, and in some cases the first, to view and handle works of art by Tongan master artists of the past, are embedded in this exhibition.

Benjamin Work (b. 1979) is a South Auckland-based artist of Tongan (Tu’anekivale, Vava’u) and Scottish heritage. He is a core member of the international art collective, TMD and is an active member of the Tongan art collective, No’o Fakataha. He has a solid grounding in aerosol painting with his initial creative output centered around sub/ pop-cultural influences that emerged from North America in the 1970s – 1980s.

Since then, Benjamin’s bold visual language references historical narratives, design elements and semiotics particular to Tongan culture. His diverse practice reflects the ‘here and now’. His work engages with the current cultural, political and social context of Auckland, Aotearoa and with contemporary local and international art and design contexts.

Work will travel to Rarotonga courtesy of the Bergman Gallery exhibition program.  His new exhibition The Glorious Children of Te Tumu features as part of the Salisbury International Arts Festival, 27 May – 11 June 2016.

About the author: Ben Bergman