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Michael Parekowhai

Genre: Contemporary Art

Country of Origin: New Zealand

Michael Parekowhai is one of New Zealand’s most important contemporary artists. In addition to an extensive exhibition history, his work is held in significant public and private collections in New Zealand and Australia, as well as in several permanent collections across the Asia-Pacific region and in Europe. His work has been included in many important exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (2011), the Asia-Pacific Triennial, Queensland (2006-2007), the Gwangju Biennale (2004), the Biennale of Sydney (2002), Headlands, MCA, Sydney (1992); and in art fairs such as Art Basel (2006, 2007) and LISTE (2007). A major volume cataloguing Michael’s practice was published by Michael Lett, Auckland in 2007 and the artist’s work has been covered by numerous significant international art periodicals.

Michael’s narratives are often complex as he draws on an abundant range of both vernacular and collective vocabularies which he manufactures into the narrative structures and formal languages of his work. Although key themes of his practice may be described as deliberate takes on the notions of introduced species and culture, the potentially overt political dimensions are downplayed.

Ideas of camaraderie, tools of teaching and childhood learning, as well as quotations from the canon of modern art history and popular culture openly play out in many of his stories. While Michael’s work is often described as emphasising the extraordinariness of the ordinary, each body of work provides layers of potential meaning and significance – they remain open to any depth of interpretation and storytelling.

Born in Porirua, New Zealand in 1968, Michael is of European and Maori (Ngati Whakarongo) descent. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (1990) and Master of Fine Arts (2000) from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts, where he is now Associate Professor of Fine Arts. In 2001 he was awarded an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate. His art practice and exhibition history spans almost two decades.

Biography courtesy of
Image: Derek Henderson