Raukura Turei (Ngāitai ki Tāmaki (Tainui), Ngā Rauru Kītahi) is an Auckland-based multi-disciplinary artist, architect and designer whose art practice uses painting to meditate on the self, sensuality and body sovereignty. Recent works involved the intimate process of the artist tracing the lines of her own figure. At first glance, these mesmerising paintings appear as soft abstractions—twists of fabric, billowing clouds, the push and pull of contour lines on a map. But the female form is there, moving in the background beneath the dabs of aumoana (blue clay), which Turei has applied directly with her fingers. Moving from an additive process to a subtractive one, she has also made works that feature top layers of onepū—the black iron sands of New Zealand’s rough west coast—that have been excavated to reveal shimmering blues or earthy yellows below. ‘Hine-Moana gnaws away at the shore line,’ Turei says of these. ‘With every lap of her waves a greeting to Hine-Kirikiri and Hine-Onepū whose fine sands are slowly formed by this caress.’ There is both a gentleness and an intensity to the ebb and flow of these works. Turei’s sensitivity to the shifting conditions of light is on display, but although there is a celestial quality to these paintings—at first glance we could be looking up at the night sky—they are very much of the earth. What we’re witnessing instead is a body twisting and turning in the cold waters of the sea, caught in the space between the night and the dawn. Whether these are movements of pleasure, pain, or somewhere between is a secret truth of Turei’s skill and her incredibly moving work.
Raukura Turei (b. 1987, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, New Zealand) lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, New Zealand. She received her Master of Architecture (Prof) from the University of Auckland in 2011 and registered as an Architect with the NZRAB in 2015. She has exhibited both in New Zealand and internationally. Highlights include the Tokyo Art Fair (2019), the Adam Art Gallery, Wellington (2019), and Objectspace, Auckland (2017).