What are the stories we tell from our collective past and how do they come to inform the lives we live in Aotearoa today? Are our histories accurate? These are some of the questions posed by Tāmaki Makaurau-based artist Ayesha Green (Ngāti Kahungunu, Kai Tahu) in this significant new body of paintings, Folk Nationalism.
Folk Nationalism continues the artist’s interrogation into histories of Māori and Pākehā representation and the role that images and language play in perpetuating systems of power. Green often reclaims and recontextualises existing historical images (by the likes of Marcus King and Isaac Coates) to question where power lies and where Māori can gain agency against those historical images. While Green’s paintings are often characterised by her simplified rendition of figures and forms, they represent a bold approach to issues concerning her Māori whakapapa – passed down through women over four generations.
Ayesha Green is the 2021 recipient of the Rydal Art Prize – a major contemporary painting prize administered by Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga in collaboration with Seeds Trust. Folk Nationalism is a key outcome of the Prize.