Not playing piano
The vibrant red carved Steinway concert grand piano, formed part of Michael Parekowhai’s installation On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer at the Venice Biennale. The piano, titled He Korero Purakau mo te Awanui o Te Motu, was recently purchased by Te Papa for $1.5 million. Two black bronze replica pianos complete with two bulls, one standing and one sitting, as well as five bronze olive tree saplings also formed part of the exhibit, but were not purchased by the museum.
Locals who have seen the installation have been impressed, describing it as “exciting.”
Capital Times wanted to ask Te Papa more about the purchase. We wanted to know why the work was seen as nationally significant and whether it suffered from being split up. Nobody at Te Papa was available to answer our questions.
So we approached five city art dealers for their thoughts, but only one was prepared to comment. While Jenny Neligan of Bowen Galleries agrees Parekowhai’s piano is an art work of national significance, she says she’s saddened the artist’s complete work will be split up.
“The work was conceived as one piece,” Neligan says. “Any work that is split suffers loss, and I feel sad this has happened to this work.”
Te Papa’s purchase of He Korero Purakau mo te Awanui o te Motu caused some public outcry from those concerned about such a sum being spent in the current financial climate.
Capital Times is surprised the fine arts community, so often critical of a perceived lack of media coverage, are too scared to comment when given the opportunity.
Parekowhai’s installation opens at Te Papa on Friday until September 23. It is the last chance for the public to see his complete work before it is split up.