Telly Tuita: Tongpop Cornucopia

23 July - 20 August 2022 Bergman Gallery, Auckland
“My history  (personal and cultural)  has experienced corresponding instances of love and hate, with villains and heroes both featuring equally – at times self-inflicting destruction, in turn prompting an uncanny skill for survival and renascence. Underneath all the razzle dazzle, I continue to push the capacity and complexity of my work, always telling a story, of us, of them, of it, of you and me, after all, isn’t it all autobiographical in the end?”

Opening Speakers:

Jeremy Hansen, Marketing Project Manager, Britomart
Telly Tuita, Artist


Tuita's Tongpop universe is a compelling narrative, interconnecting and mashing different cultural myths and histories. Legends of foreign cultures intrigue him, they reflect stories of extreme human behaviour. His staged tableaux vivants are alive with allegorical hints.'Dora the Explorer' sits equally with the Greek gods, Artemis and Apollo, Superman wears a Tui Tonga crown, traditional European painted landscapes morph into Alien ngatu infused dreamscapes. The ancient Tongan ancestor/goddess figure Hikule'o plays many roles in his practice, is omnipresent. The whole shooting match is dealt with in Tuita's visual drama, family, culture, fictional and non-fictional figures, philosophy, gender, sex, orientation, war, consumerism, fashion, money, religion, politics and pop/mass culture experiences. He leaves a part of himself in every work, he states "art is way more fun than therapy."


The artist relishes the challenge and power found materials give him. He identifies with objects that have been thrown away, consequentially, in Tuita's story, nothing is discarded - preloved, rescued and collected objects/materials are treated with reverence, interwoven within his compositions and given a luxe finish. The natural is plasticised with shiny colour and a mirrorlike veneer, Tuita says "the plastic, just gets a facelift."