John Pule's exhibition Nothing Must Remain is a detailed and emotive look at love and the human view of, and impact on, the ocean. Twenty small works on paper are hand written love poems that speak of angels and show Pule's artistic talent at its best. The artist's familiar mix of text and image show a new direction by the use of bright watercolours and the uncluttered pages possess a delicate complexity.
In three large and five medium sized canvases Pule eloquently aligns traditional hiapo (Niuean barkcloth) designs with detailed land and seascapes of action and movement based on Pule's views of west Auckland beaches. The mix of heavy, coarse hiapo patterns hide and reveal mythical sea creatures while delicate forms of ships, octopuses and whales emerge from the ink black sea only to be consumed by a multitude of people.
The difficult exchanges between native peoples and colonial explorers are highlighted in this exhibition and particularly the role the sea played in creating often chance encounters. This theme is strongly influenced by Anne Salmond’s 'The Trial of the Cannibal Dog' and Nicholas Thomas’s 'Discoveries' (both published in 2003).
Pule's sure control of his materials and evolving style have come together to perfection in Nothing Must Remain to show that while we rely on the sea, we also abuse its power.
Niuean born, Auckland raised Pule is a multifaceted artist who has exhibited extensively throughout New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific and Asia since 2001. Pule has held residencies at the Cultural Museum in Rarotonga in 2003, and at Galerie Rmerapotheke in Zurich in 2005. A published author, Pule has completed three novels, including The Shark That Ate the Sun (1992) and Burn My Head in Heaven (1998), as well as being a published poet. In 2000 Pule was the University of Auckland Literary Fellow and in 2002 took up a distinguished visiting writer in residence position at the department of English at the University of Hawaii. In 2004 he was honoured with the prestigious Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand. Nothing Must Remain is Pule's first exhibition with Gow Langsford Gallery in two years.