Telly Tuita
Tongpop Cornucopia
Photography, Sculpture, Paintings
July 23 – August 20, 2022
Auckland

Opening 2:30-5:30pm, Saturday 23 July, all welcome.

Speaker
Jeremy Hansen

For his exhibition Tongpop Cornucopia, artist Telly Tuita presents a suite of new work, amping up his trademark and unabashed use of colour, genre mutation & found materials

He states “My history (personal and cultural) has experienced corresponding instances of love and hate, with villains and heroes both featuring equally – at times self-inflicting destruction, in turn prompting an uncanny skill for survival and renascence. Underneath all the razzle dazzle, I continue to push the capacity and complexity of my work, always telling a story, of us, of them, of it, of you and me, after all, isn’t it all autobiographical in the end?”

Tuita’s Tongpop universe is a compelling narrative, interconnecting and mashing different cultural myths and histories. Legends of foreign cultures intrigue him, they reflect stories of extreme human behaviour. His staged tableaux vivants are alive with allegorical hints.‘Dora the Explorer’ sits equally with the Greek gods, Artmeris and Apollo, Superman wears a Tui Tonga crown, traditional European painted landscapes morph into Alien ngatu infused dreamscapes. The ancient Tongan ancestor/goddess figure Hikule‘o plays many roles in his practice, is omnipresent. The whole shooting match is dealt with in Tuita’s visual drama, family, culture, fictional and non-fictional figures, philosophy, gender, sex, orientation, war, consumerism, fashion, money, religion, politics, institutions, and pop/mass culture experiences. He leaves a part of himself in every work, he states “art is way more fun than therapy.”

The artist relishes the challenge and power found materials give him. He identifies with objects that have been thrown away, consequentially, in Tuita’s story, nothing is discarded – preloved, rescued and collected objects/materials are treated with reverence, interwoven within his compositions and given a luxe finish. The natural is plasticised with shiny colour and a mirrorlike veneer, Tuita says “the plastic, just gets a facelift.”

The result is a Tongpop Cornucopia of over-abundance, presenting scenes where exchanges of ideas and materials create an engaging visual experience with a hint and wink of camp shenanigans. Telly Tuita’s first solo show with Bergman Gallery Auckland is the next chapter in his evolving Tongpop premise, a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll, a sprinkle of Maria Callas and a generous dash of Dolly Parton.

Welcome to the show.