Benjamin Work New Zealand | Tonga, b. 1979

Benjamin Work’s practice embodies the recent progress of Pasifika artists raised in Aotearoa on American sub/pop culture, while also exploring the complexities of contemporary cultural institutions and their relationship with Pacific people.

Benjamin is a core member of the international street art collective, The Most Dedicated (TMD) . His initial creative output centred around sub/pop-cultural influences that emerged from North America in the 1970s -1990s. Since then, Benjamin has continued his journey of ancestral discovery and steadily developed his interests and research into aspects of Tongan history and culture. 


Benjamin’s practice extends across a diverse range of projects, which include large scale public murals, commercial print based media, paintings, photography and performance. 

Combining an ongoing investigation into the traditional  use of colour, kula  (red) and `uli (black) , ngatu (bark cloth making), kupesi  (designs and motifs) and the heliaki  (semiotics) of the povāi  (ancient Tongan war clubs),  his work informs a contemporary conversation  on the parallels that can be drawn between established Tongan traditions and practices, and the spiritual and social significance these have for Tongans within the contemporary Pacific diaspora of urban New Zealand.


The  visual language of his work references historical narratives, iconography, symbolism, and design elements that are particular to Tongan culture, which are also firmly positioned amidst beliefs  connected with Ta and Va  (time and space) , Tatau  (symmetry), Potupotutatau  (harmony) and Faka `ofa `ofa  (beauty).


Benjamin Work has exhibited in England, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, United States of America, Rarotonga and Tonga. 


In 2024, Benjamin will undertake the McCahon Hose Artist's Residency. 


Bergman Gallery has represented Benjamin Work since 2016.