Telly Tuita - Tongpop Nostalgia

CoCA - Centre of Contemporary Art Toi Moroki

In Tongpop Nostalgia, Tongan-born Pōneke Wellington-based artist Telly Tuita explores a most human of feeling, nostalgia, through his own experiences and knowledge of our world. Tuita’s ache for a past home, real or imagined, is conjured in the gallery through photography, painting and installation, as a window into his Tongpop memory.

“Romantic yet tragic, happy yet sad. It is a homesick yearning for unknown places, times and stories. Welcome to the true fantasy that is, Tongpop Nostalgia.”

Telly Tuita’s musings on the past come to life through his reworking of everyday materials (brown paper bags, ribbons, shell necklaces, plastic leis) into costumes, accoutrements, and regalia.  The meticulously crafted pieces are composed to become a re-telling of complex Oceanic memories and ideas, coupled with European art historical references and hints of religious symbolism.  Here, Tuita is asserting Tongpop, his unique aesthetic combining Tongan iconography with a contemporary pop vernacular.  It has become Tuita’s signature, his sense of cultural identity and knowledge of art history revealed in an explosion of colour and pattern.

Within the safety of the fictional world of Tongpop, Tuita presents the many contradictory sides of mankind - good vs bad, love vs hate, God vs man and man vs nature. These binaries are depicted in the portraits displayed as almost-life size photographs - titled War in SpringWinter ConquestSummer Death and Autumn Famine, each scene represents a personification of the four seasons paired with a biblical horseman of punishment. Through these personifications, Tuita looks to the past to comment on our potential future, his playful aesthetic veils deeper conversations of misplacement, colonialism and reeducation of cultures blurred at the edges by migration.

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Privacy Statement: The Christchurch Arts Audience Development Trust will ensure that all data gathered on this website will be used in accordance with the New Zealand Privacy Act and as such all data will be kept secure and only used for the purpose for which it was gathered. From time to time we may contact you about offers and competitions and to invite your feedback.