Melbourne Art Fair 2024

Renee Cosgrave

22.02.2024 - 25.02.2024


Haydens presents a series of recent paintings by Renee Cosgrave for the 2024 edition of The Melbourne Art Fair. These new works continue Cosgrave’s exploration of her Māori heritage and whakapapa [genealogy], challenging the history of abstraction by embedding her paintings with emotion and intergenerational knowledge.

Colour becomes a vehicle, transporting us into a carefully considered site of investigation. While the prismatic hues of Cosgrave’s works can be understood as embodying the complex, heterogeneous experience of human emotion, they also speak to a reflection on our relationship to family, and the lands on which we call home.

There is a significant link in Cosgrave’s paintings to the methodology used in raranga, the Māori art of flax weaving. Used as a process to create practical items such as baskets, bags, and matts, it has traditionally incorporated layered symbology, and played a significant part in Māori culture and society. Like the traditional art of raranga, Cosgrave’s paintings interweave experience and history in their surface by questioning how we express emotion through the symbolic nature of colour.

Cosgrave’s works also embody whakapapa by connecting the artist to whanau [family], land, sea, and sky through the act of painting. The painting Learning Whakapapa (Māori Land Court Archives), 2023, represents the specific lands of her family, rendered opaque through the process of abstraction, and communicated only by her to whānau. This familial understanding speaks to an act of care, and a responsibility to preserving a connection to ancestors, those who came before, and those who will come after.

Through this body of work, Cosgrave asks us to question our own relationship to family, land, and history, and the inheritance we might pass on to our kin. It represents a wide array of emotions, both light and dark, and helps us feel comfortable in its expression of vulnerability.



Renee Cosgrave lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne on Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country. She’s from Aotearoa/New Zealand of Irish, Māori (Ngāti Tūwharetoa iwi) and Scottish ancestry. Renee’s practice explores abstract painting, her recent works are inspired by raranga (Māori weaving) and reference colours from land, waters, and speaks to concepts of whakapapa, her works become dedicated to people or place.

Renee was awarded the MECCA M-Power National Gallery of Victoria Arts Mentoring Grant in 2019. Her recent exhibitions include: Papa, Two Rooms, Auckland, New Zealand (2023); Whanaungawith Aunty Dorothy Nilson, Blak Dot Gallery, Melbourne (2022); Serotonin, Futures Gallery, Melbourne (2022); Geelong Contemporary Art Prize, Geelong Gallery, Geelong (2022); Ahi Mahana with Sean Miles, Sutton Projects, Melbourne (2019) and WestFarbe, CoCA, Christchurch, New Zealand (2020). Renee’s work is held in private collections in Australia & Aotearoa and public collections including Artbank, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga and the James Wallace Arts Trust, New Zealand.

Renee Cosgrave is represented by Haydens, Melbourne

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