The Spirit Wrestler Gallery is honoured to host an exceptional exhibition by three leading Māori artists: Rex Homan, Lewis Gardiner, and Todd Couper, from Aotearoa (New Zealand), in celebration of our 15th anniversary of representing Māori art.
In 1999, our gallery was first introduced to Māori art — later that year we included a number of their artworks for the first time in our multi-cultural exhibition, Fusion: Tradition & Discovery. This became the beginning of a remarkable relationship that we have shared ever since with Aotearoa.
To celebrate this important anniversary, we felt there was no better way than exhibiting three of our most successful Māori artists. It seemed a natural choice, because these artists have had a constant belief and support towards our gallery — and each has acted as a stalwart ambassador for Māori art in North America.
They are also extraordinary artists in their own right — and we believe the quality of their creations speaks volumes about who they are and their commitment to their art and culture. It has been a privilege for us to have had the opportunity to work so closely with them on so many important exhibitions. This exhibition highlights the artists sharing ideas and themes but exploring them in their own unique ways.
Te Tokotoru nō Aotearoa
Three Artists from the Land of the Long White Cloud
Lewis Gardiner, Todd Couper, Rex Homan
For the last few years we had been hiding away Todd Couper’s carvings towards the possibility of a solo exhibition. We began to realize that because of his intricate and labour-intensive knife-carving technique that this would not likely happen in our lifetime! We suggested the idea of incorporating additional artists to exhibit alongside him. Todd was very supportive of this initiative, so we invited artists whose art could support and compliment his artworks.
Rex Homan was an immediate choice, as his minimalist contemporary carving style is in total contrast to Todd’s more traditional detailed carving. The lure for Rex to entice him from semi-retirement was the invitation to return to his earlier love of figurative carving, which was his interest before he became renowned for his bird imagery.
The invitation to Lewis Gardiner as the third artist into the mix was an easy decision. He would introduce pounamu jade, a material sacred to Māori, to compliment the native timber sculptures of Rex and Todd. Over the years we have seen Lewis easily adapt and morph his artworks to exhibition themes and to support other artist ideas in collaborative shows. We knew that his participation and understanding would enhance and elevate the exhibition to an even higher level.
All three artists know each other well; respect each others talents, and have the integrity and ability to share the stage together. They have all taken on this challenge and have excelled in producing an exceptional body of artworks.
When the Wero title was selected we little realized what a challenge this exhibition would be to all three artists with their many personal commitments — but each artist has somehow managed to rise to the challenge to present us with a wonderful selection of their art — and we are grateful for their huge commitment to making this exhibition a reality.
Our intention was always to help facilitate an opportunity to bring these artists together to produce an inspired collection of art for you to see. I believe we have achieved this.
On behalf of all my colleagues at Spirit Wrestler Gallery: Derek, Gary, Colin, and Eric, I invite you all to join us for the opening, both to view this amazing exhibition and take this rare opportunity to meet the artists.