The 1980s represented a boom in pop culture and conspicuous consumption. It was a decade well known for neon, leg warmers, pop art and the Rubik’s cube; where the American dream, thanks to Wall Street, was almost a reality and Michael Jackson and Madonna were the king and queen of pop. Cyndi Lauper just wanted to have fun, Olivia Newton John wanted to get physical and Duran Duran thought they were wild boys. The Cold War had the entire globe worrying about a nuclear winter and environmental disasters, famine, war and capitalism were creating headlines and heartache.
New Zealand, in its relatively isolated corner of the world, made international headlines for its anti-nuclear stance and protests against apartheid. It was a time when the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori land rights took centre stage alongside major economic and social reforms. American cultural references were consumed with gusto and New Zealand was beginning to recognise and celebrate its own unique identity and iconography.
Utilising the impressive holdings of the Fletcher Trust Collection, this exhibition explores a decade which was known for its extremes; as a time of excess and incredible change. The 80s show features a selection of artworks that chart some of the high points in our cultural history set against a backdrop of highly charged social and political issues in New Zealand at the time.
Curated by Tauranga Art Gallery in conjunction with the Fletcher Trust Collection, this exhibition is an opportunity to contextualise the period for those born post 1990 while reacquainting earlier generations with a time that has become synonymous with pop culture classics and tumultuous events.
The 80s show features paintings by significant New Zealand artists including Philip Clairmont, Julian Dashper, Dick Frizzell, Max Gimblett, Jeffrey Harris, Gordon Walters, Richard Killeen, Allen Maddox, Jan Nigro, Ian Scott, Michael Stevenson and Brent Wong.