Emily Karaka and Shona Rapira Davies are senior Māori artists who rose to prominence in the mid-1980s. A new show, Two Artists, showcases the differences between their individual practices, styles, and approaches. It also locates them together as contemporaries and as artists of determination, power, and vision.

Emily Karaka (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Ngāi Tai, and Waihou) defines herself as an abstract expressionist painter. Her work is recognisable for its expressive intensity, her use of high key colour, and her gritty address of political issues related to Māori land rights and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Shona Rapira Davies (Ngāti Wai) is a sculptor who also has a drawing and painting practice. Her work is introspective and often uses text to express vulnerability, pain, and a view into her private world. Though deeply personal, it is also political and speaks to the social impact of colonisation, particularly upon Māori women. It ‘reflects the time it is made in’, says Rapira Davies, but can also be defined by ‘the person viewing it’.

Read the rest of the interview published in Te Papa's Off the Wall arts magazine.

Their work is currently on show on Level 5 at Te Papa until October 2015. More details are available here.


Updated on 23rd July 2015