Aotearoa New Zealand b.1931

Ralph Hotere in his Port Chalmers studio 1979
Photograph: Marti Friedlander

Ralph Hotere has exhibited since the early 1950s and is a greatly respected artist in Aotearoa New Zealand. Early in his career his experience of the Vietnam War, as well as memories of his brother’s death in World War Two, informed his art. Hotere’s subtle and reductive paintings and installations reveal an interest in Northern Hemisphere aesthetics, inflected by his Maori heritage and personal religious beliefs. Hotere works from his studio in Port Chalmers, New Zealand.

More information about the artist

Installation view of Black paintings 1968
Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 2002
Queensland Art Gallery

Ralph Hotere
Black painting 3: Yellow on black 1968
Brolite lacquer on hardboard
123 x 62.3cm
Collection: Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth
Photograph: Bryan James

In the 1960s, Hotere was inspired by the work of American artist Ad Reinhardt, whose ‘black paintings’ prompted Hotere’s own series with this title. In Black paintings 1968, seven vertical panels are painted with black gloss enamel, reflecting the viewer’s image. A thin, brightly coloured cross is inscribed edge-to-edge on each panel. Each panel represents an elegant variation on the same theme.

Ralph Hotere
Round midnight II 2000
Lacquer on corrugated aluminium, cast leadhead nails, wooden batons verso
300 x 550cm
Collection: Hamish Morrison & Matthias Seidenstücker Collection, Aotearoa New Zealand
Photograph: Matthew Kassay

The visual imagery of the Catholic Church is influential in Hotere's work, and he has sought to revitalise its archetypal symbols. The cross design has been a constant motif in his oeuvre, and reappears in the later work Round midnight II 2000. This work is made from painted corrugated iron and uses the Gallery wall as an integral component of the work. Horizontal strips have been cut in the metal, which has been rolled back to reveal the white wall behind. Combined with the spaces between the panels, the effect creates the illusion of white crosses.

Ralph Hotere
Bill Culbert, collaborating artist
Pathway to the sea — Aramoana 1991
Paua shells, fluorescent tubes, rocks
3040 x 117 x 34cm (installation size varies)
Collection: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington
Photograph: Matthew Kassay

Pathway to the sea — Aramoana 1991 is a collaboration between Ralph Hotere and Bill Culbert. Culbert is originally from Port Chalmers but has been based in England and France for most of his life. For this work, Hotere has laid a line of paua shells along the floor. The shells are cut through, revealing a ‘river’ of iridescent blues and greens. Parallel to this, Culbert has set neon tubes end to end along the floor, mirroring the line of shells. The work is a statement about the way the natural environment can coexist with the fabricated world, and the way that Maoris and Pakehas (Europeans) both experience the pull of homeland.

List of works in APT 2002

Artists and Works
Print friendly version