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Kouratoras to represent Aotearoa at international exhibition in China

Māori contemporary artist Jimmy James Kouratoras has been chosen to represent Aotearoa at an international art exhibition in Beijing, China in August.

The 2019 Beijing International Art Biennial will take place at the National Museum of Art and the event will feature works by contemporary artists from all around the world.

Kouratoras, of Ngāti Tiipa, Tainui and Crete descent, says he's delighted to be one of five Māori artists to be included in the line-up of 27 New Zealand artists. Other Māori artists include Natasha Keating, Tame Iti and Tracey Tawhiao.

He says his works will provide a gateway for people at the event to learn more about te ao Māori.

"There's a lot of colour. There's a lot of urban images inside my work. There's also a lot of reference to taniwha, to raranga. So it gets people to look in and then once they realise where the works come from they can investigate more and discover more about Māori and Māori arts."

Videmus: We are watchin. Original art work by Jimmy James K

Kouratoras specialises in large scale paintings, vivid pop colours and an entwining of different cultural narratives and icons from his Māori and Greek heritage.

At the exhibition he will showcase two of his paintings including Atlas: Te Hau A Uru and Videmus: We are watching.

"Videmus: We are watching. is that is a portrait of some pou that had been carved by a friend and it explains the five Māori Gods, Tangaroa, Rūaumoko, Tāne Mahuta, Tāwhirimātea, and Tūmatauenga."

Atlas: Te Hau A Uru. Original art work by Jimmy James K

The inclusion of his Crete heritage will make his work unique to the others at the exhibition.

"I like to break the boundary of earthly colours and bring it into the other realm of golds and metals."

Kouratoras will leave for the month-long event in late August.

Other awards and exhibitions

Kouratoras has had solo exhibitions in Auckland, Los Angeles, New York, Brisbane, Melbourne and Queenstown.

He was the winner of the People's Choice Award at the Brisbane Contemporary Art Prize 2016 and shortlisted for the National Contemporary Art Award 2017.

He has been shortlisted for the Cleveland National Art Award 2019 and recently represented New Zealand at the Honolulu Biennial 2019 as part of the SaVAge K'lub.

Jimmy James Kouratoras. Source: File