OPINION: Stephen Braunias takes a look at Ralph Hotere's obituary writers in May Contain Facts.
Minister of the Arts Chris Finlayson
A mighty totara has fallen. But that was last month, with the tragic death of Sir Paul Holmes, who loved us all.
The passing of Otago artist Ralph Hotere is also quite sad.
But it's not like we can't laugh about it.
As a people, we need to lighten up.
I am sure that if Sir Paul was alive, he would entertain us with a mischievous tale of his long friendship with Ralph Hotere, although that would depend on whether he ever met him.
They certainly had a lot in common.
Both were private men.
And neither was afraid to confront issues such as social and political justice for Maori.
Sir Paul was colourful about it.
Ralph Hotere, too, made a bit of a splash, although most of it was made with black paint.
Some describe his art as too dark and gloomy.
Some regard it as bleak. Some dismiss it as depressing, horrible, and unsettling.
But it doesn't matter what I think.
In closing, I would like to say that it's a great honour to represent a great government as we farewell a great New Zealander.
Haere ra, Sir Paul! Aue! Aue! Aue!
Art writer Hamish Keith
I have a vivid memory of the first time I met Ralph Hotere. I don't remember anything about him, but I can picture myself wearing a flowing purple cape, a rose behind my ear, and harem pants. It was breakfast.
People crowded around the kitchen and said I was an exceptionally handsome young man with the world at my feet.
They all wanted to smell my cologne and taste my sausages. But Ralph Hotere took one look at me and said, "Please sit down and tell me all about yourself and what your opinions are about everything". And that's exactly what I proceeded to do for the next 60 years.
In retrospect, it might not have been Ralph Hotere. Whoever it was got up and walked out of the room. They were crazy days.
Actor Sam Neill
I have a very charming story about the time Ralph visited and it was snowing, and poet Brian Turner rode in on his bicycle, and painter Grahame Sydney caught a trout, and we all sat in front of a roaring fire and toasted our health with a bottle of Two Paddocks pinot noir - I forget how the story goes, but it's very charming.
Art writer Greg O'Brien
I think that in a very real sense, he was a kind of painter.
Because in the final analysis, what he often applied to surfaces, whether they were sheets of iron ("wild iron", to borrow Curnow's line) or canvas, was paint.
And how did he transfer it? With a paintbrush.
And where did it come from? A paint pot.
A theme, then, emerges; but paint was only one part of the picture.
His art was the result of his existence.
He had to eat.
He had to sleep.
He had to do goodness knows how many things in the course of his life, and all of it has ended up in his art. He also recorded every detail of all of our lives, too, including everyone who has ever lived.
In a very real sense, he was God.
Prime Minister John Key
Ralph Hotere was one of New Zealand's greatest assets, which is why my Government will sell his paintings at the earliest opportunity.
» Stephen Braunias is an award-winning writer and author of five books. Follow him on Twitter: @SteveBraunias.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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