Mahiriki Tangaroa
In a Perfect World
28 Oct – 14 November

VIP Opening 6pm, Tuesday 27 October
Keynote Speaker: Financial Secretary Garth Henderson.
Tickets SOLD OUT
In support of Bergman Gallery @the Auckland Art Fair 2021

Hor d’oeuvres + featured wine of the evening  Tohu Rewa Rosè Sparkling Wine, Winner ‘Best Sparkling Wine’, New Zealand International Wine show 2020. Fine art print door prize – winner’s choice of Mahiriki Tangaroa limited edition print valued at $850.00.

Speakers:
Garth Henderson, Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance & Economic Management.
Mahiriki Tangaroa, Artist.
Ben Bergman, Gallery Director.

Opening night live stream & online viewing room @www.bergmangallery.com

Artist statement 

Confronting times can often prompt the need to escape to an elevated, alternative reality, a world of strength, courage and heroism, one that promises a wealth of joy, happiness, fulfilling our every need and expectation. Although a self constructed, almost fictitious world, it can fundamentally serve as a guiding beacon, in the endeavour to reconcile unrelenting issues and challenges.

This collection of work came about unintentionally in response to the recent Covid-19 pandemic. It was in early February 2020, that the idea to stage an exhibition was decided, however, the thematic approach and visual presentation changed significantly along the way. During March and April of this year, we were confronted with a host of “unanswerable” questions, namely, “what’s going to happen now”?

This exhibition of work is a visual record of thoughts, experiences and observations that occurred over a 4-5 month period. Unlike previous work, they do not express any kind of definitive statement; instead, each represent fragments of an ongoing process. My previous work featured gatherings of ancestral figures, resonating a kind of togetherness, reflective of our way of life. This new series of work features individual portraits, exemplifying singularity and conveying a sense of isolation.

The title In a Perfect World references the imagined concept of the “ideal”, and the romantic notion of the “what was”. Central to all the works is the importance of optimism. During uncertain times, this is something we must always retain.  Mahiriki Tangaroa.

 

In a Perfect World

We all live in a new age, unimaginable to us until 8 months ago.

The phrase  ‘unprecedented times’ is now almost lexicon, but these times are not unprecedented. This has all happened before, and very recently. Social distancing and wearing masks were all strategies to combat a similar virus 100 years ago.

And this time around, we were warned, many times. Since the early 2000s, the world has experienced the outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and influenza virus H1N1 (swine flu).There was the usual media storm but there wasn’t really that much concern, it was too far away (MERS & SARS) or it didn’t really affect us right? (H1N1).

But hey, it turns out it was a dry run for the bigger global pandemic to come, so places like Taiwan really nailed their COVID response, unlike, say, the United States, Brazil, India and a fair few others.

As a species, we have become complacent, entitled and arrogant. We have taken to heart the mantra ‘greed is good’. Our individual rights are paramount, and we don’t care enough for our fellow man or our environment.We are simply not prepared to suffer any inconvenience in our pursuit of comfort. As a consequence, the global environment is under peril, that its change is now inevitable despite the best efforts of the few. But this is not a dystopian write up.

Without prejudice, this is our reality. We as a species are at odds with our natural surround. As a direct result of our combined action, we must now accept the consequence of escalating pandemics and climate change. They are inextricably related. So, we will adapt, we will move into this new era and respond to it as best we can, hopefully in a more enlightened capacity, but that remains to be seen. If we don’t, we know our situation will worsen. If we do, perhaps we can salvage some of what we have spoiled.

Ahhh, the good old days! Wasn’t yesteryear grand!!  It is not surprising given our new circumstances that we increasingly wax lyrical about the past.

Movies we used to watch, music we used to listen to, retro is back baby, and in force, immediately accessible and streaming on demand. And it is – checkout the offering on Spotify and Netflix! We yearn for a less complicated, happier time, free of the current fear and uncertainty. Our (re)imagined, perfect world.

And it is in this vein that Mahiriki Tangaroa’s new exhibition is presented.

Tangaroa is an artist of regional renown. Her art primarily addresses change and identity within a modern cultural context. She has an engaging style of painting, as curator Arthur Buerms noted in 2019.

‘Each of the paintings is a visual feast catapulting you to a campfire where old stories, about the dangerous heights of the mysterious mountains, the spirits of the ever- encircling sea, the expressive radiance of the fauna and flora, are told while dancing and eating. The evolution of her artwork can be read as a metaphorical voyage: Tangaroa’s journey, a voyage of the Cooks Islands as a constructed nation and her own personal voyage as a driving force in modern pacific art.’

In a perfect world takes you on a voyage, and this is most certainly a voyage for the ages. Confronting the COVID epidemic on her own terms, the artist returned to an alternative reality courtesy of a rediscovered self-portrait painted 15 years ago. It was vibrant, full of life and colour – a marked allegorical contrast to our present reality. It clicked, and the artist responded.

In a perfect world runs a gauntlet of emotion, the paintings titles reflecting key moments in Tangaroa’s (and our) journey through this epidemic.

Tangaroa writes ‘Confronting times can often prompt the need to escape to an elevated, alternative reality, a world of strength, courage, heroism, a world that promises a wealth of joy, happiness, fulfilling our every need and expectation. Although a self constructed, almost fictitious world, it can fundamentally serve as a guiding beacon, in the endeavour to reconcile seemingly unrelenting issues and challenges.’

We have all responded to this pandemic in different ways. Dependent on where we live, some have more resources and options, some don’t. What is inescapable is that no one has been spared its effect and how we finally emerge from the COVID era remains to be seen. Will there really be a ‘new normal’? Will we now fully recognize the existential crisis on our proverbial doorstep? Has this pandemic been enough of a wakeup call for all of us?

We will find out, and the future may seem normal again, however different it is, in a perfect world. Ben Bergman.