The Living House, 1999
oil on canvas
signed with initials and dated ‘SWC 1999’ (centre right)
Mori Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney
Shane Cotton is one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary artists. Drawing on his Māori and Pākehā ancestry and cultural histories, Cotton’s work puts Indigenous and settler perspectives and narratives in conversation by merging Māori, folk, Christian and colonial art in New Zealand’s unique bilingual and bicultural setting.
Born in 1964 in Upper Hutt, New Zealand, Cotton is part of the Ngati Rangi, Ngati Hine, Te Uri Taniwha iwis. He began exhibiting in the late 1980s and currently lives and works in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Cotton’s work often integrates text, based on an epiphany that “the adoption of the written word transformed the way Māori people perceived the world and changed the culture.” Alongside the introduction of Christian scriptures to Māori communities, Cotton’s art addresses political and social issues from a bicultural world view. At times abstract and at others firmly grounded in tribal spiritual subjects, Cotton’s influences range from Jasper Johns or Milan Mrkusich through to tribal totems, sculpture and painting.
A major survey of Cotton’s work, Shane Cotton: Survey 1993-2002, was held at City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (2003) and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand (2004). In 2005, he was selected as New Zealand’s representative for the Prague Biennale. In 2012, Cotton was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the visual arts.