Twenty years ago Wayne Youle participated in his first art exhibition at a newly opened Pātaka Art Gallery and Museum here in Porirua. In the years since, he has established a reputation as one of our country’s leading contemporary artists.
The artworks in 20/20: words of wisdom reflect on important life lessons that Wayne Youle has learnt over these past two decades. In the exhibition you will see a number of early works where Youle has not held back in deconstructing and interrogating his own bicultural heritage as an artist of Māori and Pākehā ancestry. Many of these early artworks draw inspiration from a range of contemporary art and pop culture references from Youle’s childhood, such as Gordon Walters’ famous koru paintings, or the shower-curtain Halloween costume from the cult classic movie Karate Kid (1984). These seemingly disparate influences speak to the cultural politics and personal identity of Wayne Youle as a child of the 1970s and 80s.
Other pieces in the exhibition reflect on works made since the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, noting a shift in focus away from Youle’s own personal identity politics towards an engagement with family and the communities that surround them. Insights gleaned from his children, parents and mentors begin to appear in the titles of these recent works, marked also by a noticeable progression towards more complex and labour-intensive art practices.
Throughout the exhibition Wayne Youle has placed short written statements about certain artworks which speak to some of the key lessons that he has explored in his art over the past twenty years. These are intimate tales, words of wisdom passed down to the artist from his elders, and from him on to his children. Other works provide a hint as to their significance through the title and imagery, but you the viewer are left to deduce the meaning through your knowledge and life experiences.
Location: Pātaka Art + Museum, Cnr Parumoana and Norrie St, Porirua - Mana, Wellington Region
When: 15 December 2019 - 29 March 2020 Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm, Sun: 11am-4:30pm Cost of admission: Free entry