Michael Parekowhai’s artworks are provocative, clever and multi-layered. In Poorman, Beggarman, Thief two key ideas in his practice come together – that of recording Pākehā culture to speak of Māori concerns, and the representation of objects from art or everyday life in heroic form. Wellington art curator and writer Ian Wedde described this work as ‘carvings turned into readymades, ancestor figures into name-tagged art conference hosts’.
Parekowhai also reclaims the racist term ‘Hori’, a derogatory term used to describe Māori men. An early work in his career, Poorman, Beggarman, Thief helped establish his reputation as one of New Zealand’s most significant Māori artists.
Michael Parekowhai is New Zealand’s representative at the 2011 Venice Biennale.
This work is on display in the Collecting Contemporary exhibition from June to December 2011.
This text was prepared for the Collecting Contemporary exhibition, June 2011.