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Traditions & Encounters: Art of Africa, Oceania & Native North America

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Prime Minister Inspecting the Volcano at Rabaul

38 x 28 1/4 in. (96.5 x 71.8 cm)

John Siune
Papua New Guinean

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Acrylic on paper
Credit Line: On loan from Robert and Nancy Foster
Accession Number: 19.2009L
Location: Currently on view
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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]

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