An award-winning Bay of Plenty artist has drawn inspiration from his love of Marvel characters to create striking artwork with traditional moko designs, with the prints on display at a Rotorua art gallery.

Contemporary artist Kereama Taepa's pieces will be showcased at Āhua Gallery's latest exhibition at Te Puia New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI), in Rotorua.

Showcasing his prints, D-E-D and CHIMICHANGAS which are both based on superheroes, Taepa says growing up in the 1980s, he was always fixated on Marvel and DC characters.

"Deadpool is one of my favourites for his wise-cracking attitude."

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A descendant of Te Arawa, Taepa said he started taking note of the correlation between who superheroes become when they put their masks on and the traditional Māori moko.

"They become their true selves. And just like a superhero's mask covers the face, so too does the moko, showing the recipient's true identity."

Āhua Gallery manager and NZMACI curator Kylie Tiuka said Taepa is an incredible artist and his pieces have been a popular talking point in their latest exhibition - Manawataki.

"Taepa's series of prints reflect the cultural significance of moko, fused with contemporary 'pop art'."

Taepa said he jumped at the chance to exhibit at Āhua for the first time.

"The gallery highlights 100 per cent Māori-made pieces and I feel privileged to show in such a unique space."

In 2014, Taepa designed the screens for the Waipa toilet block in the Whakarewarewa Forest, as well as the unique shrouds surrounding the Redwoods Information Centre toilets.

He also won the 2017 Rotorua Museum Supreme Art Award and was named supreme award winner for the 2008 Molly Morpeth Art Awards.

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Manawataki is a paint, print and sculpture exhibition symbolising the rhythm and cultural patterns associated within intricate Māori designs. The exhibition is open until July 1, 2019.


Manawataki paint, print and sculpture exhibition
Āhua Gallery, Te Puia NZMACI, Rotorua
Open seven days, 8am – 6pm
April 11 - July 1, 2019
Rotorua locals receive free entrance into Te Puia with a whānau card. Visitors wishing to visit the gallery only can request free entry through the reservations desk