Lily Laita

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1969, d.2023
Ngāti Raukawa ki Te Tonga, Māori, Samoan, Pasifika

Gaoi II

  • 1991
  • Lithograph
  • Karen Stevenson Collection, presented 2022
  • 754 x 556mm
  • 2022/189

To mark Lily Laita's death in 2023, this work was displayed with this label:

We acknowledge with sadness the death of Lily Laita – painter, art educator and valued member of the Aotearoa arts community. Laita was part of the first generation of Pacific artists to study fine arts in Aotearoa in the 1980s. She exhibited extensively here and internationally, and through her art and teaching inspired many younger Pacific artists and art educators. Laita’s paintings and prints are expressive, but also deliberately enigmatic, layered with loose outlines and shifting areas of colour that suggest private worlds and histories. She often included fragments of Samoan, Māori and English text, sometimes written in reverse. Laita became interested in the Samoan concept of vā as a creative state that existed beyond the picture plane, where she could draw upon elements from the world around her, but also enter a space of imagination and possibility. Once asked by an interviewer if she fit into a particular tradition, Laita replied: “Tradition is what you do today”.