Winner Illustrated Non Fiction – NZ Post Book Award 2011
Kōwhaiwhai, argues John Hovell, is about process, a shorthand summary of the passage of life, and a space within the whare whakairo (decorated meeting house) for the Māori artist to express his wry and droll view of human nature. It is, for coastal Ngāti Porou, an expression of an intimate relationship with the coastal environment and its resources, a lexicon of patterns created in the nineteenth century from close observation of the fleeting and incidental movements of nature.
The Passing World, The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kōwhaiwhai explores the origins of Hovell’s practice as a kōwhaiwhai artist. Surveying over 40 years of his work, The Passing World suggests that Hovell occupies a rare position as an artist who has achieved success in contemporary and customary Māori art.
Hovell’s art practice offers a series of important insights into the development of Māori art in the second half of the twentieth century, including the relationship between customary and contemporary Māori art, the connections between Māori and Pākehā art, and the ongoing development of customary arts such as kōwhaiwhai in the present.
Richly illustrated with over 100 colour images of Hovell’s painting and kōwhaiwhai projects, The Passing World, The Passage of Life demonstrates that Hovell is an important artist who has made a substantial contribution to contemporary Māori visual culture.
Damian Skinner is an art historian and curator who lives in Gisborne. His previous books on Māori art include Ihenga: Te Haerenga Hou: The Evolution of Māori Carving in the Twentieth Century, co-written with Lyonel Grant (Reed, 2007) and The Carver and the Artist: Māori Art in the Twentieth Century (AUP, 2008). Skinner has published widely on Pākehā modernism, and his research interests include cross-cultural contact in the visual arts and the politics of Pākehā identity. He has curated many exhibitions for galleries and museums in Aotearoa, including a retrospective of John Hovell’s art for the Tairāwhiti Museum, Gisborne.
136p, 100 ill chiefly col. 250x240mm
RRP NZ $49.99 inc.GST
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