The New Zealand Herald, to view the article click here.
Radio New Zealand, Arts On Sunday, to listen to the interview click here.
TVNZ, Seven Sharp, to watch the video click here.
The Press, to view the article click here.
Dick Frizzell, Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke
Renowned New Zealand artist Dick Frizzell was born in 1943 and trained at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, in Christchurch from 1960 – 64. Subsequent to a career as an art director in advertising he had his first solo exhibition at the Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland, in 1978. In this show he demonstrated his passion for appropriating low art or banal imagery to create high art through his inventive wit and painterly style. This approach has informed much of the artist’s practice up to the present day and this can be clearly seen in Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke.
Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke depicts the morphing of Disney cartoon character Mickey Mouse into a Tiki. The Tiki in Maori mythology depicts the first man or woman created by Tane, god of forests and birds. Here is a humorous and classic twist of the Frizzell theme of low art to high art. To reinforce this metamorphosis Frizzell uses a repeating outline to show the progress of this remarkable transformation (Frizzell had once worked as an animator), echoing the animators art of creating an illusion of movement through multiple cells. In the title of the work the Maori phrase ‘Tu Meke’ appears which approximately translates as “Too Much”. This suggests multiple meanings: is it an illusion of multiplying; or a call to change, for popular icons to reflect local culture; or is it Mickey morphing into an ancestral Tiki, extending his bright red tongue in the pūkana gesture? Or all three?
Since 1997, when Frizzell created the original lithographic print at the Muka Print Studio in Auckland, Mickey To Tiki, Tu Meke has gone on to become New Zealand’s best selling print. In 1998 one of the original 50 prints (5/50) was gifted by Lady Diana Isaac to the Christchurch Art Gallery and with rights to reproduce the image from the lithograph, it has since gone on to sell over 30,000 copies. Furthermore other merchandise has been created such as fridge magnets, mugs, hoodie’s, T-shirts and postcards, and these are now found all over the world. Meanwhile the original prints have significantly increased in value, one selling at auction in Auckland last year for $5,500.
Since 1997 Frizzell has revisited the image twice. In 2008 for a charity in Hawkes Bay he created a new version of the print entitled Mickey To Tiki It’s About Time and then in 2012 Frizzell created a variation of the print called Tiki To Mickey Tu Meke Reversed, which is actually a reversal of the metamorphosis and the colour.
What is not so well known is that prior to the creation of the print Dick Frizzell had painted the original Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke in 1995. The painting is a watercolour and gouache on rag paper, signed and dated and measures 490 x 740mm. Frizzell had originally created the painting for a charity auction for the Life Education Trust. It is has been in a private collection in Auckland since and is in immaculate condition. Now Ocula Black has been favoured with instructions to sell the original Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke painting on our online auction platform. The auction will commence on Friday 26 April at 10am NZST. This is a rare and important event, as it is widely acknowledged that this artwork is the most widely known and possible best loved in New Zealand. Here for the first time is the very first and only painting of Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke, the artwork that began one of the most remarkable journeys in the history of New Zealand art.
Dick Frizzell was awarded an MNZM in 2004, and his work was the subject of a touring exhibition organized by the Wellington City Gallery in 1997. He is represented in major public collections throughout New Zealand.