Artist Profile

Michael Parekowhai

Born 1968

Michael Parekowhai's narratives can be complex; he draws on an abundant range of both vernacular and collective vocabularies which he re-manufactures into the narrative structures and formal languages of his work. Although key themes of his practice could be described as deliberate takes on notions of introduced species and culture, any potentially overt political dimensions, however, are downplayed. Ideas of camaraderie, tools of teaching and childhood learning, as well as quotes from the canon of modern art history and popular culture openly play out in many of Parekowhai's stories. While his work is often described as emphasising the extraordinariness of the ordinary, each body of work has layers of potential for meaning and significance – they are open to any depth of interpretation and storytelling.

Michael Parekowhai is one of New Zealand's most important contemporary practitioners. In addition to an extensive exhibition history, his work is held in all significant public and private collections throughout New Zealand and Australia, as well as major works in permanent collections across the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Michael Parekowhai has been included in many important exhibitions, including the Asia Pacific Triennial (2006-2007), the Gwangju Biennale (2004); Sydney Biennale (2002), Headlands, MCA, Sydney (1992); and the major art fairs in Basel, Art Basel (2006, 2007) and LISTE (2007). A major volume cataloguing Michael Parekowhai's practice was recently published by Michael Lett, Auckland (2007). Parekowhai's work has been reviewed in most major international art periodicals, and covered by every major art periodical in Australasia.

Michael Parekowhai was born in Porirua of European and Maori (Nga Ariki / Ngati Whakarongo) descent. Parekowhai graduated with a BFA (1990) and MFA (2000) from Auckland University's Elam School of Fine Arts, and in 2001 was awarded Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate. Michael Parekowhai currently hold the position of Associate Professor in Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. His exhibition history spans almost two decades of practice.

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