Bergman Gallery returns to the Aotearoa Art Fair, Auckland, New Zealand.
Stand A9

Tungane Broadbent | Reuben Paterson | Mahiriki Tangaroa | Benjamin Work | Telly Tuita | Nina Oberg Humphries | Shannon Novak | Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine | Heather Straka | Gavin Jones | Raymond Sagapolutele | Sylvia Marsters

Aotearoa Art Fair
Auckland Waterfront

The Cloud
89 Quay Street
Auckland CBD
Auckland 1010

Bergman Gallery, Aotearoa Art Fair Artists Talks:

Raymond Sagapolutele – Friday 18 Nov, 11.30am, Bergman Gallery, AAF stand A9.
Shannon Novak – Friday 18 Nov, 12:30pm, Bergman Gallery, AAF stand A9.
Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine – Saturday 19 Nov, 1.00pm, Aotearoa Art Fair, Outdoor Sculpture Space.

Group Show: Mahiriki Tangaroa | Benjamin Work | Telly Tuita | Nina Oberg Humphries | Shannon Novak | Heather Straka | Gavin Jones | Raymond Sagapolutele | Sylvia Marsters.

Sculpture Park: Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine , Vaka A’Hina, 2.4m, weathering corten steel, 2021.

Ancient Tongan and Moana Oceania (Pacific) folklore provide the background story for VAKA ‘A HINA (meaning in English ‘Vessel of Hina’). Hina is a Tongan goddess who lives on the moon above the langi (sky) in vāvā (outer space) and travels frequently back and forth to maama (Earth). VAKA ‘A HINA can be imagined as the vessel she uses as transportation on these intergalactic trips – it is her vaka (canoe) – thus evoking ideas of travel, motion and movement.

Feature Presentation:

Nga Meka – Tui Kura
Tungane Broadbent | Reuben Paterson
Tivaivai | Paintings
Bergman Gallery, Stand A9.

The pairing of Tungane Broadbent (Cook Islands) & Reuben Paterson (Aotearoa, New Zealand) is an intriguing blend of dualities. They would seem to have little in common, point of origin, generation, gender, orientation, spiritual philosophy, art practice & materials. Yet when you combine their distinct artforms, these differences while at once highlighted, are cause for celebration.

Broadbent’s Tivaivai are authoritative transcripts of the Cook Islands colonial and post colonial culture. These large, laborious, time consuming hand sewn fabrics speak mostly to a time before iPhones, the internet & demanding work schedules. Tivaivai are the product of Cook Islands’ women, usually gathered in groups to sew these precious artworks as statements for occasion. They were communal in foundation and spoke for events of collective importance, the stories of family, experience and time that are stitched into the fabric are of immeasurable value.

Tivaivai are remarkable examples of patience, love and character. They pulse with the energy of their surround, incorporating bright colours, flower and plant motif, urban and religious symbols. The patterns that have developed and the methods by which they are cut and sewn, have a distinct Cook Islands’ flavour. They occupy a place of ceremonial and cultural pride.

For Broadbent, the creation of Tivaivai is second nature, she possesses the skill to cut patterns and sew. She has an inherent calling to assemble knowledge that was and still is, for now. But the now has changed, today we all live a busier lifestyle, her long-time collaborative partner Vereara Maeva -Taripo has passed on, and it is now only the occasional ‘mama’ who joins her quiet workplace.

Today, Tungane Broadbent remains an important keeper of Tivaivai tradition.  She is one of the few.

Broadbent’s compositions are floral, in the style of Tivaivai Tataura (embroidery) and Tivaivai Manu (two tone). Orchid, Hibiscus, Tiare Māori, Christmas Lily, and Roses are subject matters of this collection, a combination of European and Polynesian ethos. This is not surprising given the origin of this artform. Tivaivai are a unique combination of European quilting and Cook Islands’ compositional construct. These fabrics blend the experience of two very distinct cultures, to produce a contemporary Pacific artwork of distinction.

Paterson’s glitter paintings are infused with uninhibited passion. His paintings present as a kaleidoscope of stimulus. Paterson’s influence is close to his heart; his culture, family and orientation propel his energy. His philosophy is both personal and esoteric – edifying, empowering and inclusive. He creates an intimate portrait of unlimited effect. For Paterson, diversity is his superpower. He openly celebrates the fact that we are all composed differently, and that within our differentiation lies our true strength. He is a leading artist of his generation.

Paterson’s glitter symphonies return to his popular botanical format, unifying New Zealand native plants and flowers with decorative tropical collaborators. The New Zealand flora in these new paintings have been chosen for their declared spiritual energy. The artist has even had physical remedies created from these plants and literally imbued them into the canvases they represent. For Paterson, this is an essential element, these paintings don’t just depict these plants and flowers, they contain their healing and spiritual essence.

Paterson reaches further. The tropical plants portrayed are outwardly decorative, further manipulated by the artists media. They are overtly showy and threaten to overwhelm the foundation of the composition. They demand attention for a reason. In part they acknowledge his late father’s gardening style of blending tropical and New Zealand plants, the artist moving closer to a spiritual manifestation of these gardens.

In essence Paterson turns his father’s gardens into cherished works of art – an intriguing duality of the dead and the living. They also recognize unity with Broadbent and their shared whakapapa.

Paterson and Broadbent have combined before, in the exhibition ‘Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday (Bergman Gallery Rarotonga, 2017). The exhibition presented as a conversation between the two artforms, a call and response. Paterson’s sparkling florals were a direct reaction to Broadbent’s vibrant Tivaivai and a shared cultural link to Rarotonga, acknowledging his earlier work where he painted kōwhaiwhai in non-traditional colours after his father’s passing, and his descent lines to Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe and Tūhourangi. He said at the time; “Those same descent lines will always make me think of The Garden of Seven Stones in Ngatangiia Harbour, Rarotonga. Those descent lines and connections can all be traced back to here because it’s all a part of the whakapapa”

Nga Meka – Tui Kura offers a different point of view. Together the artists have constructed a metaphorical garden of flowers to deliver their narrative. Both artists are avid gardeners themselves. From any garden comes an appreciation of nature, its beauty and fragility. Gardens are complex micro ecosystems, they require time and patience, love, respect, and consideration. They can teach us much about ourselves. These pillars underpin the foundation of this presentation.

Within this construct, Broadbent reaches through the past to explore traditional and non-traditional floral patterns, composed and sewn in a uniquely Pacific manner. She acknowledges the blend of European and Pacific cultures from an Island perspective, her lived experience, values and beliefs merged perfectly within the stitching of the Tivaivai. Her artworks pay tribute to a time past and questions the emergent identity of a modern Polynesian nation.  Paterson takes a spiritual journey of self and surround. He is entirely comfortable within his own skin, and it shows. These botanical glitter paintings are in full effect, bright, powerful, enthralling, infused with message and purpose. In a time of turbulence, he offers to heal. Where differences are declared, he brightly proclaims that we look beyond the obvious to find common cause.

Together their story is Nga Meka – Tui Kura, where the ties that bind weave a beautiful thread to tell the story of us all. Ben Bergman.


Aotearoa Art Fair,  a celebration of Pacific Art

By Rachel Smith

There’s a particular moment when a decision is made to purchase a piece of art. It can begin with a glance, a connection between the viewer and the work that invites a closer look. It can develop over time, an emotion evoked by the image and its story. Then there is the decision itself, the joy in knowing that this piece of art will be present to view every day. Such are the moments that mark the Aotearoa Art Fair.

The range of work at this year’s art fair is extensive and varied, 40 galleries and 180 artists participating in the five-day event. The art fair is important business for the galleries and artists involved; in 2021 the art fair had sales of more than NZ$10 million with over 7000 visitors attending.

 Proceeds of the art sold go entirely to the artists and their galleries, making the Fair a significant cultural and economic event for visual arts in Aotearoa, especially at a time when artists and galleries have been impacted by recent global events,” said Stephanie Post and Hayley White, Aotearoa Art Fair co-directors, following the 2021 fair.

Bergman Gallery returns to the art fair for the fifth time, again the only representative from the Pacific Islands. The gallery’s stand is substantial and the line-up of artists is impressive, some familiar names that have shown with the gallery previously and others that are taking part in the art fair for the first time.

The day before the official opening on Wednesday 16 November and The Cloud on Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s waterfront is a busy place. Over the next 24 hours the blank walls of each gallery stand will be transformed. At Bergman Gallery, the feature presentation, Nga Meka – Tui Kura from Cook Islands vaine Tungane Broadbent and Reuben Paterson from Aotearoa New Zealand, is the first to be hung. The walls fill with colour – florals in fabric and glitter that hold the eye, demand the viewer to stop and marvel at Broadbent’s intricate tivaivai and the lush wonder of Paterson’s extravagant florals. This is the second time the artists have been paired, the first, Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday, at Bergman Gallery in 2017.

“The pairing of Tungane Broadbent and Reuben Paterson is an intriguing blend of dualities. They would seem to have little in common yet when you combine their distinct artforms, these differences while at once highlighted, are cause for celebration,” says Ben Bergman, Gallery Director. “In Nga Meka – Tui Kura, artists have together constructed a metaphorical garden of flowers to deliver their narrative. Both artists are avid gardeners themselves. From any garden comes an appreciation of nature, its beauty and fragility. Gardens are complex micro ecosystems, they require time and patience, love, respect, and consideration. They can teach us much about ourselves. These pillars underpin the foundation of this presentation.”

Broadbent’s tivaivai are a testament to her more than 50 years of the art practice. Her tivaivai manu (two tone) and tataura (embroidery), feature kaute, orchid, tiare Māori, Christmas Lily and flamboyants. Each is impeccably stitched and detailed, their beauty heightened by the understanding of the hours that Broadbent has spent with this fabric in her hands. The tivaivai is framed by Paterson’s glitter works, a technique specific to the artist that has been developed over his long career. Alongside the tropical florals and foliage are Aotearoa New Zealand’s native plants and flowers: raupō, harakeke, kākābeak/ngutu kākā.

“The New Zealand flora in these new paintings have been chosen for their declared spiritual energy. The artist has even had physical remedies created from these plants and literally imbued them into the canvases they represent. For Paterson, this is an essential element, these paintings don’t just depict these plants and flowers, they contain their healing and spiritual essence,” says Bergman.

Works for the group show, which make up the second half of the gallery’s stand, are carefully unwrapped and decisions made by the gallery team – Bergman, joined by Julian Zeman Media Partner, Benny Chan Manager of the Auckland gallery and Jade Cavalcante from SCAPE Public Art – on how each work will be displayed.

The group show has a strong focus on Cook Islands vaine, with Mahiriki Tangaroa, Sylvia Marsters and Nina Oberg Humphries, alongside artists Raymond Sagapolutele, Telly Tuita, Shannon Novak, Benjamin Work, Gavin Jones, Heather Straka, and Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine in the outdoor sculpture space. Both Tangaroa and Marsters have coinciding solo shows – Tangaroa’s Kaveinga – Angels of the Ocean showing as part of Personal Structures in Venice, and Marsters’ E Moemoea Naku – A Dream of Mine, at Bergman Gallery Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

For Tangaroa, this year marks the fourth time she has exhibited at the art fair with Bergman Gallery. “The works on exhibition at the art fair have become notable visual records of discussions, feelings and debate which circulated during our Covid period here in the Cook Islands. It was an intense time, whereas a vulnerable small island nation, we opened our borders to visitors, friends and family from Aotearoa. With thanks, we’re now on the road to social and economic recovery,” she says.

Marsters’ work at the art fair include her noted paintings of tiare taina and kaute. “Floral paintings express my relationship with ipukarea, my ancestral home – hibiscus, primarily for their iconic representation of the Pacific Islands, and gardenia, an obsession throughout my art practice. For me they capture the vaerua, spirit, of the Cook Islands,” says Marsters. “As an artist of Polynesian heritage, it’s important to me, that my work is represented by a gallery located within the Pacific Islands region. Bergman Gallery is very aware of its role in representing contemporary Pacific art with respect, knowledge and integrity.”

Oberg Humphries flies in on Tuesday afternoon from Ōtautahi Christchurch, bringing her art works with her. Her circular intricate moulded works, constructed from FIMO and finished in automotive spray, glisten against the white backdrop. Hung alongside are her staff god sculptures. “Tāura atua were representative of family members or gods associated with a particular practice,” explains Oberg Humphries. Traditionally used to provide strength and guidance, these specific tāura atua were created without any particular person in mind, instead inspired by the artists feelings in that moment and the memories triggered by the ‘found’ Pasifika material used in their construction.

Crowds form early outside The Cloud for the VIP opening on Wednesday morning. Artist Tuita is interviewed by One News in front of his painting, Pulp Fiction – Avenue of Palms. Tuita explains that the work is influenced by a scene from Mozart’s The Magic Flute with details referencing his home of Tonga, including the use of many ngatu designs.

Over the next few days, thousands of people move through the art fair, many returning multiple times. At the Bergman Gallery stand, one viewer takes a seat in front of The Child by Paterson, enjoying a long moment of observation. Others pause in conversation in front of Broadbent’s tivaivai to closely examine the detailed stitchwork.

Artists talks allow this connection between art work and viewer to deepen. Bergman Gallery hosts talks from artists Sagapolutele, Novak and Fetokai Potauaine. Sagapolutele discusses how his photography has enabled him to look at his identity as part of the Pacific diaspora – “a way to understand how my heritage has influenced me”, while Novak’s work In Bloom directly references his Croatian heritage and the historic practice of women tattooing their inner wrists with circular symbols to turn away kidnappers. “This is my circle of protection, for me – for my identity as rainbow queer in New Zealand,” says Novak. Fetokai Potauaine’s sculpture, Vaka ‘A Hina, is part of the outdoor sculpture space, with the artist also featuring in Straka’s photographic work, both artists presented in association with SCAPE Public Art. Fetokai Potauaine plays a nose flute against the buffeting Auckland wind, hosts a talanoa about the themes behind his work and the links back to his Tongan heritage.

As the art fair closes on Sunday, works are taken down and re-wrapped, many going straight from the art fair to their new home. Bergman Gallery is already looking ahead to the next Aotearoa Art Fair, a few short months away,  2-5 March 2023. Preparations are well underway for what will undoubtedly be another celebration of Pacific art.