Kaitiaki – Jimmy James Kouratoras


I met the pleasant and articulate Jimmy James Kouratoras by chance on an earlier visit to Art + Body Gallery in Mount Maunganui (see the 01 October 2014 article Art + Body Creative Studio & Gallery). In March 2015 I’m back at Art + Body to see work by Kouratoras. This exhibition of Kouratoras’ work under the title “Kaitiaki” is a combination of the past, present and future.

What seems to me to be repeated or similar images of an austere and traditionally carved image which has been photographed and then individually and uniquely embellished.

You would think the popcorn colours and gilt/gold overly would be incompatible and jarring combination – quite the opposite. The stripes and streaks enhance the underlying shape.

I love Tane Reo with its almost mellow and decorative colours and gold leaf overlay. There are several variations on this particular image theme and all are eye-pleasing.

Thee is also one major much larger sized work – “Ruaumoko” – with its pacifica flavoured colours and design. There is a prominent baby/foetus image suggesting death and rebirth and the violent emergence of children and volcanoes.

Jimmy James Kouratoras is a self-taught artist of Maori-Greek heritage. His work has been exhibited internationally. Promotional material for the exhibition (which closes on Sunday 4th April 2015) says that an exhibition of Kouratoras’ new work will soon be shown at the Agora Gallery in the artistic hub of the Chelsea District in New York.

For more information about the work of Jimmy James Kouratoras go to

www.jimmyjames.com or www.pinterest.com/jimmyjamesk

If you haven’t already discovered Art + Body Gallery in Mount Maunganui you’ll find this art space in Maunganui Road between the main shopping section and the roundabout back to Tauranga. It’s a tiny gallery space towards the front of a multi-occupation and use communal area. There’s a tiny espresso bar, a nail and beauty bar and a tattoo and body art area. As I view the Kouratoras exhibition the constant buzz of body art exponent and Gallery Director Julie Paama-Pengelly is in the background. Display cases of ethnically and Maori designed and created contemporary jewellery stand alongside the wall displayed art works. There’s also a magical and mysterious feeling in this area and it’s not just from the art work. High on the walls are the wit of the acerbic

“never run after a bus or a man. There will always be another.” Irish Proverb

As I sit in my car opposite the Gallery Daniel comes outside and lowers himself onto one of the coffee sack covered arm chairs pavement side creating a public vignette, a living temporary public art work.

Up next at Art + Body Gallery, Maunganui Road, Mount Maunganui is Tracey Tawhaio with an in gallery created exhibition Te moko atea. It started in the gallery on the 30th March 2015 and opens at 3pm on 4th April 2015 Down here for the Jazz Festival? Look in at Art + Body Gallery.

Rosemary Balu.

Rosemary is a regular contributor to ARTbop. She is the founding and current editor of ARTbop.


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