Exposition Art Blog: Guy Ngan - New Zealand Modern Sculptor

Guy Ngan - New Zealand Modern Sculptor

Guy Ngan was born in Wellington in 1926, to Chinese parents, yet calls himself ‘Pacific Chinese’. He spent time in China before returning to New Zealand and then studying art in London. He has been a significant presence in the New Zealand art scene, and was director of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts from 1976 to 1986.In 2006 a major retrospective of his work was held at the City Gallery Wellington. Guy Ngan has lived in Stokes Valley for 50 years and he created the sculpture that resides at the entrance to Stokes Valley and has recently been commissioned by the Lower Hutt City Council to design and build another large sculpture for the Stokes Valley shopping centre. His collaborations with architect Ron Sang have led to some important large scale works including the Newton Post Office mural; now in the Auckland Art Gallery collection.
"Ngan made many contributions to the arts as an administrator. From 1976 to 1986 he was director of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. He was on the council of the New Zealand Industrial Design Council, and the National Art Gallery (to later be merged into Te Papa), and vice president of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. He was awarded an OBE in 1983 and inducted into the Massey University College of Creative Arts Toi Rauwharangi Hall of Fame.
Guy Ngan’s work was often inspired by the history of early settlement in the Pacific, and explored his own place and identity in this part of the world. He described himself as Pacific Chinese, reflecting the theory that Polynesians, including Maori, originally came from Asia, particularly Taiwan. His work featured the three fingered ‘tiki hand’, as he called it, that suggested to him the claws of sea birds that the early migrations followed. The large anchor stones with holes for a rope that Maori used were another motif that inspired a body of work. And some of his cubic bronze sculptures suggest his Chinese ancestry in their resemblance to the faces of Chinese ‘chops’ used for stamping a signature."(tepapa.govt.nz)

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