Auckland Art Fair May 25-29, 2016
Mahiriki Tangaroa, Sylvia Marsters and Andy Leleisi’uao.
Paintings, Installation
Booth B18
The Cloud.  Auckland Viaduct.

Bergman Gallery presents Mahiriki Tangaroa, Sylvia Marsters and Andy Leleisiúao in a site specific presentation for the 2016 Auckland Art Fair. Bergman Gallery (formerly BCA Gallery) is based in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Tangaroa, Marsters & Leleisiúao have an extensive exhibition history with the gallery and will offer new works for this project. Tangaroa’s large expressive canvases will be on display together with a collection of smaller works. Marsters hypnotic flower works have recently increased in scale and will further evolve her new dimensional technique. Leleisiúao will present a new ufological diptych and an enthralling installation. This will be a first for all artists to offer a combined presentation.

Marsters’ flowers will provide an impressive contrast to the works’ of both Tangaroa & Leleisiúao, their combined effect a visual tour-de-force for the Auckland Art Fair audience Both the Gallery and the artists look forward to this new opportunity.

Andy Leleisiúao & the Nature of Offense
Sunflower People, 2016 Auckland Art Fair

Collective discourse and criticism are central themes within contemporary art practice. Be it political, religious, social or cultural, in an ever decreasing world order defined by disintegrating barriers of all descriptions, humanity finds itself in an unprecedented position of conjoint reinvention in the 21st century. In such a transition, there is bound to be conflict. And there is.

However, this is nothing new. Societies evolve, change and are shaped by events, natural and artificial. It has been this way since human kind separated itself from the Neanderthal. Despite the ironclad example of historical human evolution, a surprising majority are resistant to change and cling to redundant philosophies that are designed to define, control and pervert their sense of reality. Pivotal to these are attempts is the nature of offence. This is perhaps conveniently illustrated by the current US Presidential election cycle where a certain republican candidate has literally ‘offended’ his way to front runner status for his party’s ultimate endorsement.

That he has attracted substantial public support to achieve this position speaks volumes about the insidious nature of fear and ignorance, essential components in the concept of offense. Lelisisúao’s construct ‘Sunflower People’ is seemingly designed to partake in this concept. It confronts the viewer with 225 insults and innocuous adjectives painted onto 225 band aids, individually signed by the artist.

‘Racist, slut, homo sexual, bigot, freak and 220 other literary gems are hurled directly at you, with little imagination required as their tone, inflection and intent. They can easily offend as individual statement’s but become all the more destructive if you build them into sentences. With 225 words to choose from, their caustic nature is exponentialized. Little is spared in Sunflower People. Race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, the nature of offense on ribald display, but why band aids? Are these generic medical supplies not designed to cover cuts, scrapes and wounds and facilitate healing? Perhaps it is the intent of this work that band aids be philosophically applied to wounds caused by these words. But isn’t that disingenuous? Is a band aid really enough? Can a band aid possibly heal the offensive nature of the term written on it or its historical implications? Is it simply paying lip service – do we offer the band aids as a dishonest apology, we are taught not to say these words but do we sometimes think or use them anyway?

There is no question as to why these words are employed by those who would chose to use them. They are controlling terms, weapons utilized to achieve specific outcomes, be they religious, corporate, national or individual. These are themes that have dominated this artist’s work since day one. The racist, vicious side of human nature was a defining moment for a young Leleisiúao, when he experienced the infamous dawn raids of the mid 1970’s. Predominantly Polynesian ‘over-stayers’ were violently rounded up in South Auckland by police and subsequently deported. It is no surprise that the disenfranchised continually attract the attention of the artist.

Social injustice is a dark passenger in his works, manifest in various form over a career that now spans 21 years and 69 solo exhibitions. While he is known for his arresting paintings, Lelisisúao’s powerful sculpture/installation ‘Sunflower People’ is a less than subtle reminder of the shocking human subjugation that still plays out daily in all corners of our world. How offensive is that. Ben Bergman.

AAF Quick Report: The Auckland Art Fair is done and our profound thanks to the organisers North Port Events for allowing Bergman Gallery to exhibit. Five days of intense art activity in a great atmosphere showcased Bergman Gallery and exhibiting artists Mahiriki Tangaroa,  Sylvia Marsters and Andy Leleisiúao to a new audience and collector base. Joining the Bergman Gallery booth were Turama Photography directors Julian and Brie Zeman who documented our stand. Art Fair visitors were intrigued by the fact that Bergman Gallery had travelled from Rarotonga to join the art fair and many questions about the Cook Islands were asked! It was indeed an honour to represent the destination and the broader pacific. Rarotonga visitors to the stand included Mike Mitchel, Ross & Janet Holmes, Jolene Bosanquet, Christine Hurley, Mangakahia Family, Robert Skews, Maria Henderson, Puai Wichman & Tai Ngari.

Our profound appreciation to Bergman Gallery Patrons Air New Zealand, Palm Grove, Bank South Pacific (BSP), CITC Liquor, Turama Photography and TOA Gas for providing the level of support that allows these projects to exist.