The work of Whakatāne-raised artist Tina Tangiweto should be familiar to most locals – she’s probably best known for her colourful murals in Kopeopeo, Waimana, and most recently at the Whakatāne Aquatic Centre. Tangiweto sees the eponymous solo exhibition at Te Kōputu a te whanga a Toi Whakatāne Community Board Gallery as a new and exciting step in her career. The show will be opening on Saturday, 4 July at 11:30 am with Whakatāne Art Gallery’s first offical public opening event since the Covid 19 lockdown.

“I’m really positively overwhelmed to be having my show in te whenua o Mātaatua, in the whenua that raised me. I wrapped up by my community that has taught me almost everything I know about art!”

Tangiweto presents a deep dive intothe artist’s most privatevulnerabilities in a series of large self-portraits reflecting her innermost views from the perspective of rangatahi living in a world full of confusing expectations. Many paintings reference the raw effects of colonisation on self-expectations and self-esteem, touching on Tangiweto’s innermost vices such as smoking and emotional eating.

Tangiweto knows this might confront the societal expectation that people keep their insecurities hidden.  “I was told by another artist to expect that I might feel a bit emotional; that it would be really hard to put it all out there like that and see my works up on the wall, but I wanted it to be honest.”

The exhibition’s key pieceMi Goreng Maemae, shows an angry Tangiweto in self-portrait with noodles spewing down her chin, boldly confronting both her shame and complicity in these addictions that provide, “a socially prescribed artificial version of love.” She allows us uncensored access to her journey as she navigates through depression, cultural assimilation and anxiety in spaces where she finds positive mental health difficult. In a separate series of paintings, Tangiweto records her rising and falling energy levels during the Covid-19 rāhui, alongside the Maramataka phases of Paengawhāwhā and Haratua.

While Tangiweto’s style of painting is contemporary, some of her subject matter pays homage to tīpuna in content. Tangiweto’s Matariki Series explores whakapapa and mourning, acknowledging Matariki as the customary time to release loved ones who have passed on since the last time the constellation arose. Tangiweto has provided small vignettes to describe her relationship with her subjects Nanna Bobbie, Nanna and Godfrey Alexander Fairlie.  

“This is our time to watch the waka of Tama Rereti transporting and transforming whanau into the stars that guide us. With our ancestral knowledge, with our stars in the sky, we are never alone.”