Shane Cotton To And Fro

Press Release – Rossi and Rossi

Rossi & Rossi are proud to announce Shane Cotton, To and Fro. On view will be a series of new paintings and works on paper in what will be the artist’s first solo exhibition outside Australasia. Cotton is among the most accomplished Maori artists working …Shane Cotton To And Fro

9 JUNE – 22 JULY, 2010 | ROSSI & ROSSI LTD. PRIVATE VIEW WEDNESDAY, 9 JUNE, 6-8 PM 16 CLIFFORD STREET, LONDON
| www.rossirossi.com London, May 11, 2010 –
Rossi & Rossi are proud to announce Shane Cotton, To and Fro. On view will be a series of new paintings and works on paper in what will be the artist’s first solo exhibition outside Australasia. Cotton is among the most accomplished Maori artists working today, of the Ngapuhi iwi, a Maori term for “clan” that directly translates to “bones.”

The Ngapuhi are the largest iwi in New Zealand, and, in 1814, were the first to invite Christian missionaries to work among them. In the ensuing years they would have a mercurial relationship to the English. An initially close trading partnership led to a massive expansion of their territory during the Maori Musket Wars that soured when a dispute over land treaties sparked war between the Ngapuhi and the British Crown. Over the course of the 20th century economic and cultural dissolution led the Ngahupi to leave their traditional homelands and spread throughout New Zealand’s North Island.

These historical and cultural currents run deep channels through Cotton’s work, which has evolved in recent years to increasingly cross traditional Maori perspective and iconography with that of traditional European Christian art. Taking its title from the Book of Job (“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”), the exhibition examines the artist’s personal and philosophical movements between present and eternal, Maori and Pakeha (non-native New Zealander), Christianity and traditional belief, and the material world and the hereafter; as well as formal aspects of his work such as the interplay between image and text.

It is perhaps in this last dichotomy that the themes of To and Fro become most evident. The titular passage becomes a sort of mantra within works like Going To and Fro in the Earth, Walking Up and Down in it appearing in small clusters throughout in a ragged, decayed expressive text that fades in and out of view against a dark-hued maelstrom. Many other works seem to come from a place of guilt, as evidenct in a repeating motif of a bird falling from the sky. More literally, the phrase excerpted from the Lords Prayer “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive” forms the background in Feature Face Memory (pictured) around a portrait that seems at once both the stylized image of a young Maori man and the image on the Shroud of Turin that is argued to be that of Christ.

:ABOUT SHANE COTTON Born in Upper Hutt, New Zealand’s smallest city and a suburb of Wellington, Shane Cotton is among the most accomplished Maori artists. A recipient of New Zealand’s prestigious Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago, Dunedin, his work has been included in exhibitions throughout the world, including the Auckland Triennial (2007) and exhibitions at the Asia Society, New York (2004); the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2001); and multiple exhibitions at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art.

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