Black painting; Ralph Hotere; 1964; 1965/24/2


Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki


Black painting

About this object

On his return in 1965 from studies in Britain, Ralph Hotere exhibited his Human Rights paintings in Auckland; they demonstrate both his debt to Ad Reinhart's dark minimalism and his awareness of geometric abstraction. Black Painting is sombre and contemplative, its colours those associated with traditional Mäori art. Hotere has often incorporated words into his paintings - poetry and invocation - which combine with his limited range of colours and forms to produce powerfully emotive works. In the catalogue of a major 1997 exhibition, Out the Black Window, which explored Hotere's weaving of poetry into his paintings, Gregory O'Brien commented: 'Throughout his career Hotere has painted requiems, producing elegies for individuals, for tribes, for humanity as a whole, and for the environment . . . Since the Polaris paintings with their anti-nuclear impetus and the Algérie works protesting at French opposition to Algerian independence, [he] has been an advocate of involvement - political, environ-mental, social and personal'. In this early work there are no words of poetry, no specifics of reference, but a powerful abstract symbolism which signals the opening of his continuing theme. Although his work is passionate, Hotere's use of symbols is always opaque, never easily explained. Geometric simplicity, immaculate construction and the haunting melancholy of its title give power and brilliance to this formally beautiful painting. (from The Guide, 2001)


Ralph Hotere

Maker Role


Date Made


Medium and Materials

acrylic on wood


1702 x 1702mm

Subject and Association Description

humanism, civil rights, politics, geometric abstraction, symbolism

Credit Line

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, purchased 1965

Object Type


Object number


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