The Ponsonby Madonna, 1982-1983, Fomison, Tony. Auckland Art Gallery Toi Tamaki, purchased with funds from the Lyndsay Garland Trust, 2006.
Tony Fomison, Ponsonby Madonna, 1982-83
Painted while the Auckland-based artist was employed on a temporary job scheme, the double portrait is a heartfelt statement of the dignity and strength of Pacific Island peoples.
Originally painted for St Paul’s College – a school with a largely Polynesian roll – the painting has never been exhibited in Wellington before.
Recasting the Virgin Mary and Christ Child as Pacific people, the painting offers an epic account of Fomison’s own desire to feel at home in this part of the world. At the same time, the artist looks beyond barriers of race and geography, to offer a timeless icon of universal values.
As is also the case in the two other works by Fomison in Oceania, the work asserts the importance of identity, family relations, and the spiritual power that resides within the physical world.