Good Weekend Art Column

Lisa Reihana – Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Sydney

Published September 15, 2020
Lisa Reihana, 'Venus' (2020)

Artist: Lisa Reihana

Lives: Freeman’s Bay, Auckland, New Zealand

Age: 55

Represented by: Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert (No Melbourne representation)

Her thing: Dramatic, editioned photos derived from a large-scale 3D immersive film.

Our take. Lisa Reihana has been making theatrical, multi-media works on Pacific themes for decades, but after her large-scale video projection, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] was shown at the 2017 Venice Biennale, her international reputation has soared. The Venice work, which took ten years to complete, has become a collectors’ item, with a price tag in the hundreds of thousands.

Her new 3D film, Nomads of the Sea, is being shown on Cockatoo Island as part of the 2020 Biennale of Sydney. An imaginary narrative of the 19th century, it tells the story of a female mutineer, Charlotte Badger, who has been given sanctuary by a Māori tribe. Her presence draws the anger of a local woman named Puhi, who views Charlotte as a destructive influence.

Like so much of Reihana’s work the piece explores the tensions of cross-cultural pollination, the battle between indigenous tradition and colonial influence. These images focus on the role of women within the community, although Puhi is no less aggressive or territorial than any Māori warror.

Sally Dan-Cuthbert, the artist’s exclusive representative in Australia, is selling a suite of photographic stills from the film. Each captures a moment from the narrative, but also works as a powerful image in its own right. This is a pretty standard way for multi-media artists to make their work accessible to private collectors who might not be expected to acquire a large-scale video installation.


Can I afford it?

The highest priced work in the show is Venus (120cm by 220cm) at $35,000. The cheapest is a small sized version of a print called Seer (46cm by 58cm) at $6,000. All the images are in editions of 5, with two artist’s proofs. The record price for one of Reihana’s photos is $55,000, for a 2016 work called Dancing Bride.


 Where can I have a squiz?

Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, 20 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney.

5 March – 10 May, 2020.



Published in The Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July, 2020