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Freedom To Be

Original painting Sold, oil on canvas, 1070 x 1780mm, 2011
Limited edition print available - scroll down and click 'add to cart'

"The colour scheme of 'Freedom To Be' is quite different from my other works - I wanted it to allude to both the old 19th century sepia photographs of Maori as well as Tiki Taane's namesake - Taanemahuta, God of the Forest - by bringing out the greens of the background and his moko kanohi (facial tattoo).  I see this as a portrait of his elemental, ancestral or cosmic self.  I've also used a different painting technique on this one - a lot of rough, patterned dabbing to create texture mixed with smooth glowing effects and fine detailing around the eyes." - Sofia Minson.

This oil portrait of New Zealand musician Tiki Taane with painted face moko brings clearly to view the connection he forges between himself and his whakapapa. Taane has worn his moko previously as artwork: inspired by C.F. Goldie portraits, he presents himself with full facial moko on the cover of his Past, Present, Future album.

The painting's title 'Freedom To Be' refers to his 2011 song 'Freedom To Sing'. Sofia says "as a fellow artist I admire Tiki coming out with such an inspirational song. It shows he's overcome recent legal issues and media attention with even more creative power than ever. In this painting he proudly wears his moko, an outward sign of his inner growth and resilience."

Minson explains how she and the chart-topping musician came to know each other: "We were in the same issue of Mana Magazine a few years ago and Tiki emailed me to say that he liked my art and that we should think of a way to collaborate together in the future, perhaps through album artwork or merchandise for his music. I actually think of this portrait as a collaboration because the painting is so full of Tiki's story and his presence, which comes through his Ta Moko and the intensity of his eyes."

Since Lindauer and Goldie in the 19th century, there has been a surprising lack in the tradition of Maori oil portraiture. While Minson is inspired by their works, she says her contemporary Maori portraits“are far from Goldie’s recordings of a vanishing race” and are intended to fill an important niche for her generation.  As a Maori artist of mixed heritage (Ngati Porou, Swedish, English and Irish), she uses the traditional Western medium of oil on canvas to show contemporary Maori as a vibrant and evolving people.

Interview with Tiki Taane on Ta Moko:

1. How was the decision made to have you wearing Ta Moko for your album Past, Present, Future?
Seeing as the album was delving into my story of understanding my whakapapa, I wanted the artwork & especially the cover to be similar to a Goldie portrait.

2. Who designed your moko?
Inia Taylor from Mokoink, who has tattooed a lot of me & also my mum, drew the moko based upon my whakapapa, new & old. We made the prosthetic moko for the video Tangaroa in which I play the roll of my Tipuna..

3. Would you ever get a permanent full-face moko?
Yes, the moko that we designed will be the one I will eventually wear, but that will be in many years. Like DNA, it is mine & mine only. My son & his sons will be the only people who could wear that moko.

4. What does moko mean to you?
One of the biggest reminders for me to keep on pushing, are my Moko & Tattoos. Everyday I have to carry these signs with pride, through the judgement, to never forget who I am & where I have come from, for that sets the foundation of where I am heading.

Limited Edition Print

Limited edition of 75 signed prints available on matte paper of museum archival quality called hahnemuhle photo rag 308gsm. Image size is 487 x 810mm surrounded by an unprinted white border.  Shipping is FREE within NZ and $35 everywhere else (prices are NZD).  Unframed print arrives sealed in protective tube or sleeve.

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Sofia Minson Oil Paintings | New Zealand Artwork