Song of the Twice Born
Charcoal & acrylic on paper
1055 x 760 mm
‘Song of the Twice Born’ is a poignant and engaging new work from Gareth Barlow’s ‘Aranga’ series. ‘Aranga’, the title of Barlow’s forthcoming series, in te reo means to rise to the surface, to appear. This captivating work on paper is created in acrylic and both traditional charcoal, and charcoal from the burnt taonga that has inspired the piece.
Barlow explains, the original tekoteko (a carved, human-like figure crafted to represent ancient tribal ancestors), created in respect for eminent Māori leader Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Tūruki by contemporary carver and good friend Kapene Alexander, was tragically burnt in a fire earlier this year.
Instead of disintegrating into ashes, the artist has used the ashes to produce an artwork and like the taonga itself, gives new life – twice born.
Gareth Barlow is a contemporary New Zealand artist living in Sydney, Australia.
Expressed through a deep reverence for the tangata whenua of Aotearoa, Barlow works primarily with a blend of acrylics and charcoals to evoke an ephemeral and transcended quality to the structure of his large-scale portraits and symbolic compositions featuring native New Zealand birds and waka.
Of his practice, Barlow comments, “I sometimes feel that on anyone’s art journey, if you don’t have more questions than answers, you’re not on the right path.” This statement rings true to anyone engaging in subject matter that is considered living taonga; Barlow interrogates this intersectionality and determines that he happily exits somewhere in the in-between, traversing the relational space between Pākehā and Māori worlds.