The Pasifika art collective shaping the future and visual style of Tāmaki Makaurau
South Auckland based collective ‘Raroboys’ has opened an exhibition at Māngere Arts Centre alongside allied Aotearoa-based Pacific creatives. The collective was established “in celebration of independent work in independent spaces” and comprises ten artists whose multimedia art ranges from graphic design to photography and illustration. The collective has previously released two zines, with a third volume coming highly anticipated by the youth art community.
Raroboys artist @southsides is at the forefront of the show. His portraits of South Aucklanders outside their homes during lockdown garnered national attention. It is a glimpse into the lives of Auckland’s cultural capital during a unique time in our world’s history. The portraits have an innate and subconscious Aroha about them that can only be conveyed through the subjects present in his portraits.
The exhibition is a celebration of independent Pacific creativity. Raroboys chose to lift up the next generation of Māori and Pacific artists by allowing young artists to see their art on display. Because of this, I was able to see my favourite piece of the entire exhibition. Young artist @alasvillainy brings forth a piece titled ‘bungas and beyond’. It displays the Samoan flag standing strong on the masina (moon) with an astronaut wearing a lavalava. It is a strong image that highlights the strength and potential of the Pacific people. Art is as valuable as we deem it to be and the connotations of Pasifika potential in this piece are irreplicable.
The Raroboys & Friends offer a cultural and comradery-filled group of South Auckland-based artists. What makes this display is the works’ uniform strength. The way all pieces are given the space to operate together makes for a proudly Pacific exhibition. The art features pieces by associates of the Raroboys collective. These associates are Pacific youth that the collective has uplifted by displaying their art in a place that lets them see their pieces in a real exhibition.
The Māori and Pacific art world are often notoriously underappreciated or advertised to a commercial world. This independent and Pacific-inspired atmosphere for outsiders or new arrivals is both refreshing and highly entertaining. It was inevitable that when the collective released further volumes, it was met with a response coloured by intercultural, generational, and artistic appreciation. The art displayed here holds a youthful and inspirational disposition in its atmosphere. It is the calm before the storm for these artists who are only getting started
Raroboys & Friends are the artists of the future. Follow their @s, as soon enough, they’ll be at the forefront of Auckland’s art scene. I encourage you all to see the exhibition yourself. The artwork is beautiful, creative, and the foundation of Tamaki Makaurau’s visual future. I only wish there was more, and can’t wait to see what these artists do next.
RaroBoys & Friends closes on Saturday the 26th of March and can be seen at Mangere Arts Centre.
Entry into Mangere Arts Centre is Free for all. Masks, distancing, and vaccine passes required for entry.
photos courtesy of artsdiary.co.nz