Lisa Reihana - The art that artists love: What works live in the homes of Kiwi creatives

Grant Smithies, Wish Magazine, August 8, 2021

Lisa Reihana (Ngāti Hine/ Ngāpuhi/ Ngāti Tu)

The most recent work I purchased is called King Camp Gillette, by Julian Hooper. Julian and I went through art school together. He’s a great painter with a kooky edge, and this one is an image of two razor blades crossed over so they form a face. My dad passed away a year and a half ago, and it immediately reminded me of him, because he used to have one of those old-fashioned razors.


There’s another incredible artwork that I purchased a few years ago as a present to myself for finishing [major video work] In Pursuit Of Venus. It was at a book launch and I was drinking quite a lot, which always loosens everything up, including the credit card. It’s a bark painting, pictured, by Aboriginal artist Nonggirrnga Marawili, and it’s about lightning, but instead of coming from the sky, the energy swirls up from the ground, like dust devils.


Aboriginal art somehow feels ancient and funky at the same time, and the materials help make these paintings feel really alive, because it’s ochre from clay painted on the bark of a tree.

I’ve got another crazy little work here, a fractal sculpture made from pencil leads by Peter Trevelyan, sitting inside a little dome. It feels all geometric and pseudo-scientific, made from this beautiful material that looks so fragile, but is surprisingly strong if you move it around.

Another thing here that I love I found years ago when James [Pinker] and I were travelling in Japan. He made me walk up this big hill in Kyoto, and I went past this little blue Buddha. He’s just glorious, very small but very powerful.


All of these works feel like touchstones for different times and different experiences, but also, as an artist myself, I identify with all the love and time and care it takes to create something special for the world.


Having special objects around you is important, too, I think. It’s like having a familiar. I don’t have a cat or a dog; I have these things, and I find myself talking to them out loud sometimes. A lot of these objects and images feel emblematic of deeper, more mysterious forces in the world, and some have a feeling of being ancestral, somehow. They make you feel you’re not alone.

of 241