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Captain Cook as Never Seen Before at Portrait Gallery

Captain Cook as Never Seen Before at Portrait Gallery

Intestinal Tract, by Nigel Brown


A painting of Captain Cook as you have never seen him – with his underpants down and relieving himself in the bushes – will be featured in an exhibition at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery next month.

“This is about as far from an official portrait as you can get – here Cook is caught off guard going about his business,” says Southland artist Nigel Brown, who calls his painting Intestinal Tract.

Two Auckland artists, Lisa Reihana and Gavin Hurley, join Brown in the exhibition Tranquillity Disturb’d: A contemporary look at historical New Zealand which focuses on the impact of Captain James Cook’s three visits to New Zealand in the late 18th century.

Curator Richard Wolfe says: “Arguably no single individual has had such influence on the course of New Zealand history.” He says the three artists offer very different and highly personalised interpretations of Cook’s visits.

“These pictures show the human being underneath the historical figure of exploration,” says Nigel Brown. “Cook becomes one of us.”

Gavin Hurley’s portraits feature previously overlooked subjects - the servant boys who sailed on Cook’s Endeavour, including Nicholas Young, the first crewman to sight New Zealand who gave his name to Young Nick’s Head.

Lisa Reihana, who describes herself as an urban Maori artist, says that she resolved in her contributions to counter “slippery notions of truth and representation” in early European idealised depictions of the Pacific and its people.

The exhibition at the NZ Portrait gallery in Shed 11 on Wellington’s Queen’s Wharf will run from 12 March – 31 May.

ends

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