• Luise Fong
  • Mahiriki Tangaroa
  • Lucas Grogan
  • Luke Thurgate
  • Benjamin Work
  • Rhea Maheshwari
  • Telly Tuita
  • Tanja McMillan (Misery)
  • Sylvia Marsters
  • Joan Gragg
Bergman Gallery Aotearoa Art Fair

Lucas Grogan
Lucas Grogan's practice spans multiple disciplines that include painting, textiles and murals. Known for his limited blue palate and acerbic wit, his Library series function as time capsules of competing ideologies, psychological insights and current affairs. Grogan has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and internationally, his work has been collected by The National Gallery of Australia, numerous regional galleries, corporate and private collections.

Telly Tuita
Wellington-based artist Telly Tuita was born in Tonga in 1980 and immigrated to Sydney at age nine. Living in Australia for most of his life, Tuita’s disconnect from his Tongan heritage has long informed his practice. Exploring his cultural identity and complex relationship with his ancestral home has led him to form a distinct visual language, Tongpop.

Tongpop is Tuita’s self-described hybrid aesthetic, born from the artist’s love of bright bold hues, alongside traditional Tongan ngatu patterns and religious iconography. Tuita navigates ideas of home and belonging, borrowing familiar motifs, materials and methods of production, challenging idealised notions of the Pacific Islands.

Scouring secondhand shops and dollar stores, Tuita creates assemblages of thrifted homewares and holiday trinkets with a playful pop colour palette. The works serve as a reminder of unique cultural practices and deities that have been lost over time, here they are reinvented through Tuita’s lens. Tuita creates a new narrative for the found objects, recasting them as relics of the modern age.

Telly Tuita completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Western Sydney University (1999-2003) before undertaking a Bachelor of Art Education at the University of New South Wales (2004). In 2011, Tuita completed a Master’s in Special Education through the University of Sydney.

Since moving to New Zealand, Tuita has exhibited in Christchurch, Hamilton, Wellington, Auckland and Tauranga and has been a finalist in a number of art awards including the National Contemporary Art Award and the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award 3D.

Tanja McMillan (Misery)
Tanja McMillan grew up in Queensland, Australia. At the age of 12, she moved to Tāmaki Makaurau-Auckland with her mother and sister. Tanja's heritage is French Polynesian Tahitian, Hakka Chinese, Australian and NZ Pākehā, a rich tapestry whose vibrant threads pulse with energy; upon which Tanja often draws. Her heritage and the links she feels inform her sense of being, part of nature, and therefore the universe, a gift she shares through her practice.

Tanja's research is vast and eclectic, she is drawn to traditions and cultures which align with her belief that everything in the world contains a unique energy. Inspired by Japanese art and her own reflections and discoveries, Tanja uses personification and anthropomorphic devices to translate this idea of the 'energy in everything' into her work.

Mahiriki Tangaroa
Mahiriki Tangaroa is a graduate of the Ilam School of Fine Arts, Canterbury University (1997), New Zealand. Finding inspiration in pre-colonial artefacts, legend and folklore, her research centres on the Cook Islands God of the Ocean, Tangaroa, the God of Agriculture and War, Rongo, and the unnamed Aitutaki goddess. Her works primarily address social evolution and identity from a modern Pacific perspective.

She has an engaging style of painting, as curator Arthur Buerms noted in 2019. ‘Each of the paintings is a visual feast catapulting you to a campfire where old stories, about the dangerous heights of the mysterious mountains, the spirits of the ever- encircling sea, the expressive radiance of the fauna and flora, are told while dancing and eating. The evolution of her artwork can be read as a metaphorical voyage: Tangaroa’s (the Gods) journey, a voyage of the Cook Islands as a constructed nation and her own personal voyage as a driving force in modern Pacific art.’

In 2022 the artist presented a site specific series of new paintings for Personal Structures entitled Kaveinga – Angels of the Ocean. Personal Structures is a global contemporary art showcase hosted by the European Cultural Centre (ECC) that runs concurrent to the Venice Biennale. The artist wrote; “Governed by the ocean, we are a small island nation vulnerable to the tropical elements. Intense sun, rain, rust, and corrosion. The majestic volcanic mountains embrace us, so too the land that we continue to inherit from our ancestors. Sacred enclosures and celestial spheres are the underlying currents that dictate our existence. Our belief in spirituality, superstition, has been transformed into the western concept of religion.”

For 20 years, Mahiriki Tangaroa has been a catalyst for Rarotonga’s contemporary art identity, exhibiting regularly and organizing international artist residencies and training workshops for established and aspiring artists and exhibiting both domestically and internationally. Her extensive exhibition history includes shows in Rarotonga, Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Sydney, New York City, Stockholm & Venice.

Rhea Maheshwari
Rhea Maheshwari is a visual artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She graduated with a Masters in Visual Arts with First Class Honours from AUT in 2021. Her bachelor's degree included a six-month residency at Academie Minerva in Groningen, Netherlands and a residency in Mumbai, India in 2019. In 2018 she won the Boards choice award in the Eden Arts Art School award, Joint Overall Winner for the Eden Arts Young Artists Award and the Gordon Harris Award for Excellence in Visual Arts.

Rhea's paintings and drawings explore a way of intuitive and subjective map making.

She draws inspiration from 17th and 18th century Mughal miniatures in particular their decorative and ornamental elements. They lend themselves to represent a psychological territory that connects her to multiple cosmologies, geographies, and cultures at once in a relational tapestry. She understands her practice within the paradigm of Tantra which includes self-reflection, love and ritual as method. Embellishment and mythology allow her to stylise her own personal experiences and desire to express emotion, or psycho-spiritual moods known as rasa in Indian aesthetics.

Louie Bretaña
Louie Bretaña is an Auckland based Filipino | New Zealand artist with parental roots from both Manila and the Visayan province of Iloilo.

After a career as a creative director in the Phillippines advertising industry, Bretaña immigrated to New Zealand in 2011 where he undertook his long held ambition to become a practising artist.

Bretaña’s discourse addresses the impact of colonialism, both historical and contemporary and it’s ongoing manifestation within a modern Pacific context. Bretaña’s astute observations are captured in engaging visual experiences including sculpture, performance and jewellery.

Since 2016, Bretaña has participated in 21 exhibiton projects including the solo exhibitions Eat My Rice’ - Performance Art Week Aotearoa 2017, Playstation, Wellington; 'Syokes', Objectspace, Auckland, 2021 and 'Tumingala Sa Tinitingala Na Mga Tala', Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, Titiranagi, 2021.

Bretaña was a finalist in the 2022 Parkins Prize, New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington and the Molly Morpeth Canaday 3D Award, Te Kōputu a te whanga a Toi, Whakatane.

Louie Bretña has a a BFA with First Class Honours and MFA with First Class Honours from the University of Auckland Elam School of Fine Arts and a BFA from the College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines.

Joan Gragg
Across 5 decades, artist Joan Gragg has recorded how Cook Islanders live, increasingly addressing multiculturalism as it evolves on a small Pacific Island.

In earlier works Joan captures iconic island moments, women on motorbikes with their babies tied to them, or people on motorbikes carrying large household items and/or large pieces of garden equipment. In village scenes of an Umukai (traditional feast prepared in an earth oven), there are dogs under the table, there are chickens scratching in the dirt, there is laughter and tables filled with food. Her wedding series showcased the unique circumstances of island nuptials, as the bride and groom are celebrated in a hybrid ceremony of Island cultural and Christian traditions.

Gragg's use of colour directly reflects her tropical surround, the composition and structure of the work designed to catapult the viewer directly into the depicted scene. All aspects of everyday life are subjects for Joan, her central message to live the moment was clear then, it is even more pertinent now.

Gragg is also known for her series of Nuku paintings, that celebrate the unique point of view of the annual Christian gospel celebrations. The Nuku Pageant is a distinct Cook Islands cultural experience, as traditional Bible stories are adapted and performed live, in true Cook Islands style, with both humour and reverence. Humour and laughter are very close to the surface in the Cook Islands. Joan states, 'Exploring aspects of humour and place through the Nuku has made me increasingly aware that the Cook Islands is a multi-cultural society and becoming more so every year. The integration of two traditions, recognition of the consequent incongruities and an acceptance of these incongruities is a distinctive feature of the Cook Islands today. The freedom to laugh comes from the understanding of this duality.'

In her artwork, Gragg conveys the easy-going manner that defines Cook Islanders. Her works not only give evidence of the philosophy of this Pacific Island community, but also serve to record ways of life that universally evolve, often before we have taken the time to appreciate them. She is self-taught in drawing and water colour and studied oil painting at the Atelier, with Snowden Hodges in Hawaii. Joan completed a Masters of Art & Design (First Class Honours) from Auckland University of Technology in 2010.

Luise Fong
Luise Fong is a Malaysian-born New Zealand artist. Fong was born in Sandakan, Malaysia but grew up in Auckland in one of the city’s first Eurasian families. Luise studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, graduating with a BFA in 1991.

In the 1990s, Luise Fong developed a distinctive post-modern practice. Her evocative and stained abstract paintings allude to a micro and macro world, characterised by an aesthetic formalism. Between 1993 and 1994 Fong worked as a junior lecturer at Elam School of Fine Arts. In 1994 she was the artist-in-residence at the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne and in the same year was the joint winner (with Bill Hammond) of the Visa Gold Art Award. In 1995 Fong moved to Melbourne and lived and worked there until 2001, when she was appointed lecturer in painting at Elam School of Fine Arts. She remained there until 2005.

Fong's work has been included in several important international exhibitions, including Cultural Safety: Contemporary Art from New Zealand, Frankfurter Kunstverein, 1995 and Trans/fusion: Hong Kong artists' exchange, Hong Kong Arts Centre and Auckland Art Gallery, 1996. Fong has held a number of residency positions; in 1995 she was an artist-in-residence at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and in 1999 she was the Visiting Artist at the University of Canterbury. In 2008 she was resident artist at the Colin McCahon House in Auckland.

Luise also holds a PG Dip of Secondary teaching in Art and Art History, graduating with a Master of Art and Design from AUT University in 2017.

Her work is held in numerous private and major public collections throughout New Zealand and Australia, including Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, The Bathhouse Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa, University of Canterbury, University of Auckland, Fletcher Trust, Chartwell Trust, Jim and Mary Parr Collection, Paris Collection, and Dame Jenny Gibbs Collection.

Sylvia Marsters
It is impossible to escape the mesmeric qualities of Sylvia Marsters flower paintings. Brilliant colour and realism demand your attention, the composition of the artist’s flower works designed to draw you into a powerful space filled with a wealth of sensation.

For her most recent series of Gardenia paintings, the artist has said that she has looked to the tradition of 19th and 20th century Viennese flower painting, from Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller to Gustav Klimt. The work is exceptionally detailed. Grand cycles of life play out in glorious detail across the canvases. They are beautiful, yet pensive. Dark, moody backgrounds draw the viewer past the obvious fragility of the flowers into a void of heightened emotion, they are spaces and experiences yet to be encountered.

For much of her youth, the artist was thrilled with tales of her father’s island in the Pacific, stories that ultimately became represented by the flora that she paints. Elements of realism blend with concepts of romanticism and perceptions of Pacific fantasy in these new compositions, structuring a sense of serenity and compelling attraction.

Sylvia Marsters is senior Pacific artist, born in Tāmaki Makaurau to a New Zealand mother and Aitutakian (Cook Islands) father. The artists extensive exhibition history covers 30 years, including 80 exhibitions.

Luke Thurgate
Luke Thurgate is an artist living and working on Gadigal Land (Sydney, Australia). He teaches drawing and painting at the National Art School, where he graduated in 2021 with a Master of Fine Art. Luke has an extensive exhibition history including recent exhibitions at Grafton Regional Gallery, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Backwoods Gallery, Burra Regional Art Gallery, National Art School, and Adelaide Central Gallery. He was a finalist in the 2019 Dobell Drawing Prize, the 2020 Tom Bass Figurative Sculpture Prize, and the 2022 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award.

Luke’s multi-disciplinary studio practice explores the construction and deconstruction of ‘identity’ in relation to masculinity, sexuality, romance, and power. His current work uses the monster as a surrogate ’other’ to explore tensions between parody, sincerity, menace, pathos, transgression, and vulnerability. Luke’s work borrows from a range of sources, including popular culture, Catholic iconography, and queer historical archives.

Benjamin Work
Benjamin Work’s practice exemplifies the recent progress of Pasifika artists raised in Aotearoa on American sub/pop culture, while also exploring the complexities of contemporary cultural institutions and Pacific diaspora. Drawing on his Tongan heritage, Work has pushed his art in powerful new directions over the last decade. Inspired by the iconography found on cultural treasures such as ‘akau tau (war clubs), his refined, graphic paintings have sought to find new spaces and ways for audiences to engage with Tonga’s visual culture, both inside institutions and on the streets.

For his new series of works, the artist states, ‘I have shifted my focus from Motutapu to the Northern group of islands called Vava’u [my home islands]. It was the Tautahi [Sea Warlords] from both Vava’u and Ha’apai islands that were renown warriors who fought the mainland for the eventual unification of the Kingdom of Tonga. Through oral traditions and early records we see that Tautahi warriors stood out from the rest, known for elaborate hairstyles, tātatau [tattoo] and painted faces. Inspired by the 1845 sketch by Belgian artist Auguste Wahlen, of a Tongan warrior heading out to war, I’ve created these works emphasizing the importance of facial recognition and whether they are a friend or foe, with something to hide. Their choice of colors aligned with the Tongan physical, psychological and human attributes of red and black colours, linking nature, mind and society and gendered division of labour. ‘

Benjamin Work has exhibited in Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, North America, Rarotonga and Tonga

Bergman Gallery is an international dealer galley representing and exhibiting artists from the broader Pacific region. Bergman Gallery is based in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, opening in 2016 & Auckland, New Zealand, opening in 2022. Alongside a regular schedule of exhibition, the gallery also participates in art fairs internationally and offers an invitational artist in residence program.

Bergman Gallery and represented artist Mahiriki Tangaroa participated in the European Cultural Centre's curated project, Personal Structures, Venice, Italy, April - November 2022 with the site specific exhibition Kaveinga - Angels of the Ocean.

Bergman Gallery services include private and corporate art consultation, valuations, acquisitions, lighting, art hanging and framing advice.