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Glen Wolfgramm's paintings strongly reflect the fusion of Polynesian and Palagi cultures in urban centres like Auckland, the world's largest Polynesian city, while also expressing some of the tensions that arise between differing cultural traditions.
Wolfgramm, born in 1971 and raised in New Zealand of Irish/Tongan-born parents, looks at Tonga as a 'foreign homeland'and struggles with a sense of alienation from his paternal culture. Occupying a territory enriched by artists such as Ani O'Neill, JohnPule and Fatu Feu'u, Wolfgramm references Celtic and Tongan motifsusing contemporary media and symbols, creating work that criticDavid Eggleton credits with 'revitalising the imagery oftraditional (Polynesian) art forms'
As Wolfgramm has asserted &ldquo I paint to uncover aspects of my lifethat are becoming more conscious through the process of painting. Ihave been brought up with a predominantly Palagi outlook on life.My cultural and
spiritual relationship with my father's homeland, Tonga, is notstrong. My parents speak English at home and as a result, Ihave learned very little of my father's native language. However,to look at me, you would say I am Tongan.
My paintings represent this confusion and the sense of isolationit causes. Unlike traditional tapa cloth markings and designs, mypaintings are not narratives of legends or status. They representhow I feel, an analysis of myself, my family, my environment andt he exploration of my identity as a New Zealander.&ldquo
In his four previous exhibitions, this self-taught artist hascaptured the attention of collectors and critics, placing worksinto public and private collections throughout the country anddrawing enthusiastic reviews from local critics and visiting international media. Glen Wolfgramm's paintings are a fine example of why Euro/Polynesian work is now at the cutting edge of art in New Zealand and the wider Pacific Rim.