The Dark Is Light Enough: Ralph Hotere, by Vincent O'Sullivan (Penguin 2020)

Neil's picture

This is a superb biographical portrait of a unique figure in New Zealand art, and the unique way in which he approached life and his art practice. O'Sullivan, who knew Hotere and his whanau well, has a brilliant way of describing the art, the man himself, and the various characters in his orbit. It's a generous portrayal of an extraordinarily single-minded artist, his appreciation of friends and collaborators, food and wine, and art. He was a prolific and political artist, but never explained his art, or wanted to say anything about it, but he became enormously successful, in the end, because his vision was so singular. Sadly, there are no reproductions of his work in the book, which is unusual for a book about an artist, but apparently no agreement could be made with Hotere's executors (he died in 2013). Fortunately, I had the excellent 2008 Ron Sang Publications book, by Kriselle Baker and Vincent O'Sullivan himself, on hand to consult.