Rick Welland – Pukapuka, Open Ed. Print.
Rick Welland, Pukapuka. Open ed. print on archival paper, 210x297mm, unframed.
When the first reports of the Islands of the South Seas reached the old world, it seemed as if paradise had indeed been re-discovered and in 1962, when Rick Welland first laid eyes on Rarotonga, an Island that James Michener had described as ‘one of the loveliest in the pacific’ he could have been forgiven for thinking the same.
Permanently escaping his former occupation within the super hyped world that is California advertising, Welland instantly gelled with his new environment and within days of his arrival had painted and sold his first work.
For the next three decades, he painted his journey, fusing the popular fantasy perspective with the elemental reality of life on a small pacific Island.
Welland’s vibrant & expressive realism painting style perfectly captured the universal moment that he found himself within. Images of stunning Island maidens, families & landscapes burst forth from his canvases, eagerly consumed by visitors to the Island and, at various times sold through galleries in Tahiti, Fiji and Hawaii.
Of particular renown are Welland’s paintings of Cook Islands Legends of which one (Ina & the Shark) is now permanently enshrined within a local $3 currency note.
While Welland’s Legend series were delivered in his usual, visually expressive manner, they also contained poignant social commentary, encompassing the culturally fatal delivery of the Christian gospel to the Cook Islands and can be considered some of the first significant contemporary art works to be produced in Rarotonga.