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Hone Papita Raukura "Ralph" Hotere is a New Zealandmarker artist of Māori descent (Te Aupōuri iwi). He was born in 1931 in Mitimiti, Northlandmarker and He is widely regarded as one of New Zealand's most important living artists. In 1994 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Otagomarker and in 2003 received an Icon Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Early history

Hotere received his secondary education at St Peter's Maori Collegemarker, Auckland. After early art training in Aucklandmarker, he moved to Dunedinmarker in 1952, where he studied at King Edward Technical Collegemarker. During the later 1950s, he worked as a schools art advisor for the Education Department in the Bay of Islandsmarker.

In 1961 Hotere gained a fellowship and travelled to England where he studied at Londonmarker’s Central School of Art. During 1962-4 he studied in France and travelled around Europe, during which time he saw the development of the Pop Art and Op Art movements. His travels took him, among other places, to the war cemetery in Italy where his brother was buried. This event, and the politics of Europe during the 1960s, were to have a profound effect on Hotere’s work, notably in the Sangro and Polaris series of paintings.

Hotere returned to Otago in 1965, settling in the town of Port Chalmersmarker on the Otago Harbourmarker. In 1969, he became the University of Otago's Frances Hodgkins Fellow, and at about that time he began to introduce literary elements to his work. He worked with poets such as Hone Tuwhare and Bill Manhire to produce several strong paintings, and produced other works specifically for the New Zealand literary journal Landfall.

Black paintings

Also during the late 1960s, Hotere began the series of works with which he is perhaps best known, the Black Paintings. In these works, black is used almost exclusively. In some works, strips of colour are placed against stark black backgrounds in a style reminiscent of Barnett Newman. In other black paintings, stark simple crosses appear in the gloom, black on black. Though minimalist, the works, as with those of most good abstractionists, have a redolent poetry of their own. The simple markings speak of transcendence, of religion, or peace. These themes have extended to more recent works, notably the colossal Black phoenix, constructed out of the burnt remains of a fishing boat.

Political art

Alongside the Black Paintings series, which still continues, Hotere's political works have also continued. When Aramoanamarker, a wetland near his Port Chalmers home, was proposed as the site for an aluminium smelter, Hotere was vocal in his opposition, and produced the Aramoana series of paintings. Similarly, he produced series protesting against a controversial rugby tour by New Zealand of apartheid-era South Africa (Black Union Jack) in 1981, and the sinking of themarker Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warriormarker (Black rainbow) in 1985. More recently, his reactions to Middle-East politics have resulted in works such as Jerusalem, Jerusalem and This might be a double cross jack.

Hotere's work in recent years has been slowed by ill health, but he still creates and exhibits regularly.


  1. general.aspx?ct=668&id=2818
  2. Exhibitions/2005/RalphHotereLithographs19842004/
  3. noteID=1089&area=NZ%20South%20Island

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