Gordon Walters (1919−95) New Zealand
PVA and acrylic paint on canvas
Purchased 1978 with assistance from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand
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Like a prayer
In te reo Māori, the word ‘karakia’ can refer to a prayer or chant. With its simple elements and use of repetition and variation, this painting by Gordon Walters does have a chant-like quality.
Walters’ titles weren’t meant to be taken literally, though. Instead he used them to pay tribute to the Māori art traditions which informed his work. The interlocking circles and lines of his ‘koru’ paintings were inspired in part by tā moko (facial tattooing), toi whaikairo (wood carving), and kowhaiwhai (rafter painting). To these influences, Walters added his deep understanding of western abstract art, to create paintings utterly unique to New Zealand.