- Purchased, 1999
- Acrylic on canvas
- 1804 x 1556mm
William Dunning’s Colonization Triptych presents history as an uncomfortable place filled with cracks and stains. In a gallery of paintings within a painting, it places colonial Prime Minister Julius Vogel in the same room as Waikato Māori leader Rewi Maniapoto, each flanking an adapted version of Giovanni Bellini’s circa 1487 Transfiguration of Christ. Dunning’s reworking, however, replaces Jesus with early colonial governor William Hobson and Moses and Elijah with deed-bearing settler and Māori chief, substituting Bellini’s startled disciples with generic Māori figures. In dealing with displaced, changing authority and rulership, Colonization Triptych tells of the artist’s abiding awareness of the government-led injustices of the colonial past. The stiff awkwardness of the figures recall waxwork museum dioramas or early photographic studio portraits, and echoes the discomfort still easily enough associated with this past.
(He Waka Eke Noa, 18 February 2017 – 18 February 2018)
See the Transfiguration of Christ by Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516), Museo di Capodimonte, Naples.