Rongo, one of the original artists of the Beachcomber Contemporary Art programme (2001-15), returns to Rarotonga from Australia where he now lives with his wife Dernice and family of four.
His vibrant new series of canvases pick up strongly from his past series and reflect a sense of confidence with refinement permeating the works.
Rongo’s central Tangaroa character once again anchors the artist’s narrative, linking his past to his present reality.
Traditional phases of the moon, traditional motifs, Cook Islands Maori phrasing and fishing for various species of reef fish populate his canvases, conjuring up a romantic notion of Rongo’s Rarotongan upbringing.
Deep blue colours absorb the senses, highlighted with reds and flecks of gold, allowing the audience to imagine being on the fishing expedition, feeling the cool water and seeing colourful fish dart beneath the coral outcrops of the reef.
“I incorporate reflections of my childhood and life skills developed as the youngest of nine siblings, growing up in a modest setting where much time outside of school was spent working the land and sea to help feed our large family,” Rongo said.
With a maturing sense of his personal life experiences and his own family responsibilities, Rongo crafts a modern Polynesian story, a now familiar tale of diaspora, from the lagoons of the Cook Islands to the mines of Western Australia.
Central to his discourse, the bond of family is constant. It is his reason for returning home to Rarotonga, if only briefly this time.
The series of work is titled Kimi Ravenga – “finding a way to make things work”.
It opens on July 9 and will run until July 27 at the all-new Print Room at the Beachcomber Pearl Market, Taputapuatea.