John Pule Kulukakina (after experiencing something miraculous, withdraw) 2004 | Oil and ink on canvas | 200 x 180cm | Purchased 2004. The Queensland Government's Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
b.1962 Niue/New Zealand
Lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand
Born on the limestone coral atoll of Niue, John Pule is recognised as one of the Pacific region's most significant and influential artists. In his early works, Pule adapted the grid-like formation of Niuean hiapo (barkcloth) to structure his visual narratives. These works signalled the beginning of his long-term concern with the effects of migration and differing belief systems.
Kulukakina (after experiencing something miraculous, withdraw) 2004, myriad stories and memories coexist and interact. Androgynous figures carry birds, aeroplanes, heavy crosses and other objects up ladders towards inaccessible places and churches on red organic mounds. Pule has variously recounted these as 'stigmata' or 'micro-paradisiacal' isles. Sinuous vines appear to grow or weep from these tracts of land, sprouting large peony-like flowers. Pule conjures stories of missionaries' wives sowing European plants in an attempt to recreate a sense of home. These introduced species eventually outgrew the carefully tended garden plots to merge with the native flora.
Kulukakina (after experiencing something miraculous, withdraw) 2004 is also Pule's reflection on all the people close to him lost in the last decade. The commanding red forms readily evoke blood and violence, yet the possibility of renewal is also evident in their botanical fecundity. A yellow bird appears for the first time on Pule's canvases, heralding a bright future.
Exhibitions (solo): 'Nothing Must Remain' (2009) and 'Another Green World' (2006), Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand; Galerie Roemerapotheke, Zurich, Switzerland, 2005; 'John Pule', Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand, 2000. Exhibitions (group): 'The 5th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art', Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2006; 'Small World, Big Town: Contemporary Art from Te Papa', City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand, 2005; 'Islands in the Sun', National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2001.