Arnold Manaaki Wilson

He Tangata, He Tangata

He Tangata, He Tangata by Arnold Manaaki Wilson

Artwork Detail

Hūtia te rito o te harakeke, kei hea te kōmako e kō? Kī mai ki a au, ‘He aha te mea nui i te ao?’ Māku e kī atu, ‘He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.’

Ko te hira o te tangata, ko te hira o te oranga o te tangata te kaupapa o tēnei whakataukī, koia hoki te kaupapa o te tārai a Arnold Manaaki Wilson, He Tangata, He Tangata, 1956. Kua tāraihia te rākau kotahi, ā, he upoko me he tinana māori e heke iho ana ki tētahi puare nui a waenganui. Kei te miramira He Tangata, He Tangata i te kākano angiangi o te whakairo, me ngā whao māori i te mata o te rākau, ā, he wā whakakoke mā te toi Māori – ka nui te neke atu i ngā tikanga whakairo tuku iho e kitea nuitia ai i ngā tekautau 1950 i te toi Māori, ki te tikanga e whakaputa ai i ngā ariā hou, i ngā kaupapa pūkare i roto i te āhua tūturu i pāngia ai e te tikanga o te toi hou. Ko tēnei he wā kauhuri, he wā whai tikanga – he urungawaharoa mai i tētahi wā o te whanaketanga o te toi Māori, ki tētahi wā kē atu.

Hūtia te rito o te harakeke, kei hea te kōmako e kō? Kī mai ki a au, ‘He aha te mea nui i te ao?’ Māku e kī atu, ‘He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.’

If the heart of the flax plant is pulled out, where will the kōmako sing? If you ask me, ‘What is most important in this world?’ I will reply, ‘It is people, it is people, it is people.’

The importance of people and the importance of human life is the central message of this whakataukī (proverb) and Arnold Manaaki Wilson’s sculpture He Tangata, He Tangata, 1956. Told through the sculpting of one piece of timber, we see a modest head and torso that traces down to a large central void. Emphasising the carved texture and uncomplicated cuts in the wood surface, He Tangata, He Tangata represents a breakthrough moment in Māori art – it drastically moved away from customary carving modes prevalent in 1950s Māori art to bring forth radical, new expressions of the figurative form influenced by the modernist art tradition. It sits as a gateway from one era of Māori artistic development to the next.

Title
He Tangata, He Tangata
Artist/creator
Production date
1956
Medium
totara
Dimensions
1170 x 360 x 300 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1993
Accession no
1992/33/1
Copyright
Copying restrictions apply
Department
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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