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22 March 1997 —
20 April 1997

Emily Karaka:
Waharoa O Ngai Tai

The Fisher Gallery exhibition offers us the opportunity to witness the latest work of Emily Karaka. Regarded by some as the whaea, elder woman, of Māori women artists, Emily Karaka had her first one-person show in 1980 at Auckland's Outreach Gallery when she was only 28. Early mentors included Colin McCahon, whom Emily Karaka claims as one of her respected elders. Among others are Phillip Clairmont, Allen Maddox, Ralph Hotere and Tony Fomison. The passion, polemic and sheer dimension of Emily Karaka's early work came as a shock, not to mention the subjective slash of her methodology. One could conjecture that her male mentors would have been totally unaware that she would take the strength of their life force and apply it with similar potency and immediacy to her own. Largely self- taught, she developed a highly personal and expressive style that manifested itself in big complex, organically-inspired and discordant work, filled as much with words as with images. Her paintings not only eyeballed us; they shouted at and challenged us.