Prime Minister Inspecting the Volcano at Rabaul
38 x 28 1/4 in. (96.5 x 71.8 cm)
Papua New Guinean
Medium and Support:
Acrylic on paper
On loan from Robert and Nancy Foster
Location: Currently on view
In parts of Papua New Guinea, some people still live traditional lifestyles. Yet in areas like the capital city of Port Moresby, western ways—trucks, helicopters, computers and cellphones—have infiltrated almost all aspects of life. In this painting, John Siune depicts the Prime Minister and other officials inspecting the volcano that destroyed the town of Rabaul in 1994. The stylized heads visible on the side of the helicopter represent these important men. In the foreground, three traditional masked duk duk figures from the local ethnic group run away from the scene. This meeting of old and new is described in the Papua New Guinea language of Tok Pisin in the top left corner.
John Siune and the Simbu school of artists follow in the steps of Mattias Kauage. Kauage adapted an art form foreign to his culture (two-dimensional picture paintings) to comment upon contemporary life in Papua New Guinea. For their sales, these artists rely heavily upon western travelers to the capital city of Port Moresby.
[Gallery label text, 2009]