Topic: Arts

Unique pōwhiri to open new art exhibition

By Jessica Tyson
  • Auckland
  • South Island
Photo source: Jimmy James Kouratoras

Māori artist Jimmy James Kouratoras is taking a new approach to his upcoming exhibition in Queenstown by hosting a special welcoming for the artwork.

The painter, sculptor and print maker, of Tainui, is collaborating with writer and director Dione Joseph.  

“She’s bringing a performance level to the show, a sensory level. So, she’s directing a Lebanese opera singer to karanga in the paintings to the show at the beginning,” says Kouratoras.

The renowned singer, Eva-Maria Ghannam, will respond and to speak to each piece of work, he says.

“It’s almost a pōwhiri for the paintings as such and [will bring] in elements of tikanga into the opening of the show.”

The exhibition, named Putāhi Wairua - Where Angels and Ancestors Collide, will showcase artworks reflecting Kouratoras' Māori and Greek heritage.

“I’ve been bought up around marae and urban Auckland and in the village from my father’s island in Crete, so it brings all these elements together,” he says.

To portray Māori ancestors in the work he has portrayed a tiki which he first saw after being invited to the restricted section of a museum where taonga were kept, by Māori art curator Nigel Borrell.

“Then when I was working on this show I was doing my research around how I was going to represent ancestors and [the tiki] just popped out, boom, like that!  It’s been the perfect anchor, the perfect pou, to where I want to go with my work right now.”

To depict his Greek heritage, Kouratoras painted using gold and glitter.

“I’ve deliberately taken that from my Greek heritage, from my orthodox heritage, where you can walk into a church in the village of Crete and be surrounded by beautiful gold icons and gold candles and it’s really about bringing those two worlds together.”

The exhibition will feature 11 paintings and one sculpture. Four of the paintings are 1800cm by 2400cm in size.

“They’re all paintings on canvas with a resin finish and then I have about five paintings that are 900 by 1200[cm].  Then there’s a sculpture roughly about the size of a man’s stomach.”

The exhibition opens on January 24 at the Artbay Gallery, Queenstown.