When only the best will do: Greg Semu and The Raft of the Tagata Pasifika

From Paul Cullity, Kodak Alaris National Account Manager, Australia and New Zealand
Imaging – Paper, Photo Chemicals and Film


When visitors to the National Gallery Victoria enter the darken halls of Greg Semu’s exhibit*,  “THE RAFT OF THE TAGATA PASIFIKA,” they encounter dramatic, illuminated photographs that both reimagine 19th century master paintings and challenge the reality the artists portrayed.


“The Arrival” • 1200x600mm • DuraTrans face mounted to 6mm Acrylic • photographed 2014 editioned 2016 • © Greg Semu and Alcaston Gallery Melbourne

Semu**, a student of the colonization and Christianisation of the Pacific as well as the paintings The Arrival of the Māoris in New Zealand and The Raft of the Medusa, disputes the perception of the Māoris in both of these master pieces. Recreating the paintings using 22 indigenous actors in the Cooks Island, Semu portrays the Māoris as strong, vibrant seafarers rather than desperate, emaciated travelers.

The photographs, which emulate the chiaroscuro style of painting, contrast light and shadows to create a three-dimensional illusion. Semu first developed this style with earlier exhibits, to “extend the action beyond the surface of the painting and into the viewer’s space.”

To achieve this dramatic effect, Semu worked with Colour Factory, in Fitzoy, Victoria (AUS). Colour Factory, with which our team has worked for more than 35 years, is known for its fine art printing. Using KODAK PROFESSIONAL ENDURA Display Materials, Colour Factory created eight large format, light box installations, face mounting the printed images to 6mm Acrylic. This is just one of many collaborations between Semu and Colour Factory, having worked together for the past four years.

Labs like Colour Factor choose our Display materials for the standards we’ve set in quality, productivity, and image stability for photographic (AgX) transparency output media. First, labs know that they will deliver the highest quality output that meets both the aesthetics and longevity required by discerning clients. The clients range from individual artists to museums and galleries to upscale retailers and brands. Second, our roll-to-roll and batch-to-batch consistency ensures our lab customers can create efficient workflows, critical in today’s fast paced environments.

“There just isn’t another product at this standard due to the silver halide technology,” said Phillip Virgo, Colour Factory. “The detail in the blacks & highlights is just not matched at this stage.”

*Greg Semu’s exhibit will run through September 16, 2016.

**Greg Semu is represented by Alcaston Gallery.



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