Growing up in the decades following World War II, Wi Taepa experienced an era of rapid change. The conversion of Māori kāinga, from farming villages to urbanised centres, had a profound impact on him and his art. The American war in Vietnam, also a pivotal moment in his life, led to a lifelong affinity with the ceramic traditions of South-East Asia, Melanesia and the Pacific. These experiences and others helped shape Taepa’s artworks as much as they shaped him as a person.
The largest survey of Taepa’s practice to date, Retrospect looks back at over thirty years of art practice, focusing on the five major series of works he has created throughout his career. The exhibition tells some of the stories behind the works, giving us an insight into the man behind the sculptures.
Wi Te Tau Pirika Taepa (b. 1946) has a Certificate of Craft Design from Whitireia Community Polytechnic, a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Whanganui School of Design and a Master’s degree in Māori Visual Arts from Massey University. Major international exhibitions include NZ Choice, Glen Green Gallery, Santa Ana, United States of America, 1994; Harare, Zimbabwe National Art Gallery, Zimbabwe, 1995; Haka which toured through the United Kingdom in 1998; and Kiwa, Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, 2000. Major national exhibitions include Ngā Tokorima, National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2005; Wi Taepa, City Gallery Wellington, 2012; Te Reo Karanga o Taranaki The Call of Taranaki, Puke Ariki Museum, New Plymouth, 2013; and Uku Rere which originated at Pātaka Art + Museum in 2013 and toured throughout New Zealand.
I tipu ia i ngā tekau-tau i whai muri mai i te Pakanga nui tuarua o te Ao, i kitea e Wi Taepa tētahi ao whakanekeneke. I pā kaha atu te hekengai ngā kāinga Māori, i ngā hāpori pāmu ki ngā hāpori taone i ana mahi toi. Ko te Pakanga Marikana i Witināma, he āhuatanga whakamīharo i puea atu ai i tana kaingākau ki ngā toi uku o te Tonga-mā-rāwhiti o Āhia, ngā toi uku o Meranīhia, o te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa hoki. Nā ēnei momo wheako me ētahi atu i tārai ai wā Taepa mahi toi, pērā anō hoki i a ia hei tangata.
Ko te kohikohinga nui nei a tō Taepa mahi Retrospect, he hokinga mahara ki ngā tau toru tekau o tana mahi toi, e aro atu ana ki ngā raupapa matua e rima i waihangatia e ia i tana umanga nei. E whakapuaki ana tēnei whakaaturanga i ngā kōrero o ana mahi, he whakakitenga i te tangata o ēnei tāraitanga.
Kua whakawhiwhia ki a Wi Te Tau Pirika Taepa (wh. 1946), tētahi Tiwhikete Mahi Toi nō te Kuratini o Whitireia, he Tohu Paetahi Toi nō te Kura Toi o Whanganui, he Tohu Paerua Toi Māori nō Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa. Ko ana whakaaturanga matua i whenua kē, ko NZ Choice, Glen Green Gallery i Santa Ana, i Ngā Whenua Tōpū o Amerika, 1994; Harare, Zimbabwe National Art Gallery, i Zimbabwe, 1995; Haka i tāpoitia i Piritānia i te tau 1998; Kiwa, Spirit Wrestler Gallery, i Vancouver, i Kānanta, 2000. Ko ana whakaaturanga matua ki Aotearoa, ko Ngā Tokorima, National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2005; Wi Taepa, City Gallery Wellington, 2012; Te Reo Karanga o Taranaki The Call of Taranaki, Puke Ariki Museum, i Ngāmotu, 2013; Uku Rere i tāpoitia i Aotearoa mai i Pātaka Art + Museum i te tau 2013.
Curated by Rueben Friend
Director, Pataka Art + Museum