Shane Cotton | the artist
The artist Shane Cotton
Born 1964, Upper Hutt, New Zealand.
Lives and works in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
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Shane Cotton (Ngati Rangi, Ngati Hine, Te Uri Taniwha) is one of a small group of prominent artists of dual Maori and Pakeha descent. Trained within a European art school tradition, Cottons work explores aspects of his bi-cultural heritage and by extension, examines the nature of New Zealand cultural identity.
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otton's work was deeply ambiguous. It was hard to know precisely how to read the images. For instance, did his Dali soft watches symbolise European values imposed upon the land or Maori cyclic time? His sepia-toned instant-history palette was equally curious. It suggested both European Old Masters and the ochres used in traditional Maori art, but it was the complete antithesis of Maori Folk Art's technicolour exuberance. When Cotton laced in tell-tale nods to overseas contemporary "appropriation" artists including Jeff Koons, Haim Steinbach and Imants Tillers, was he suggesting an affinity between hip postmodernist image-scavenging and Maori Folk Art? As controversy was raging around Pakeha artists appropriating Maori imagery, Cotton's "reverse appropriations" certainly complicated the terms of that debate, even as they protested the historical alienation of Maori Land…
Shane Cottons paintings draw on both his Maori and European heritages, combining popular culture, art-canonical references and local oral histories of New Zealand…
Shane Cotton produced his first series of lithographic prints in 1998, and a second in 2004. This most recent series was produced with the Australian Print Workshop in Melbourne and published by Gow Langsford Gallery. In them, Cotton delicately delineates images that have become synonymous with his work, including the controversial motif of "upoko tuhituhi" or marked heads, and his iconic birds…
Cotton is not a history painter in the accepted art-historical sense. "My sense of history is not intellectual,' he says, "it's very selective. It's a starting point for a lot of things I do, the images I use. But my works are not located within that narrow frame. History is part of the subject matter." Cotton's Maori's ancestors were from Northland in New Zealand's North Island…