Tupela Helikopta ..(Two Helicopters)
1997, Acrylic on Canvas, 120 cm x 112 cm.
This piece is for sale, from the October Gallery, for £ 650.00
Mathias Kauage is the best-known and longest established of the new artists from PNG painting in a contemporary style. A day-labourer from the Highlands he visited the first ever exhibition of a PNG painter (Timothy Akis) in the late Sixties and struck by what he saw there decided that he could do just as well. After meeting Georgina Beier (the Austrian artist/educator who had 'discovered' Akis) Kauage went on to study under her and within a year had indeed produced a sufficient body of work to hold his own exhibition. He never looked back and was so successful that many others imitated his quite particular style - to such an extent that a whole "school" of imitators sprang up around him. Often copied, therefore but never bettered he continues to be the only PNG artist with an international reputation and following. After meeting Queen Elizabeth II in 1994 he presented her with a picture that he had produced of himself and 'Queenie' meeting. The gift was accepted and the compliment returned when, in 1998, Kauage was awarded the Order of the British Empire.
This picture shows a typically inventive treatment of helicopters by Kauage. The pidgin inscription reads "Tupela helikopta bisi long karim Gol na Kai Kai igo kam Long Porgera" which can be translated as 'Two helicopters busy carrying gold and food to and from Porgera (a mining camp in the PNG highlands.)