Richard Killeen (b. 1946) Welcome to the South Pacific 1979 acrylic lacquer on aluminum in 16 parts, dimensions variable Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection

Richard Killeen is well known for his cut-outs, of which Welcome to the South Pacific is an early example. The cut-outs are made up of multiple images borrowed from various cultural and natural sources. The shapes are re-drawn, cut out of aluminium and then arranged as a group on the wall.

The motifs indicate an abundance of cultural references; they are symbols of both human endeavour and the natural world; flora and fauna, artefacts of travel and trade, and iconic symbols. Overall they suggest the European colonisation of the Pacific region.

Killeen’s cut-outs not only reference the processes of collage but could also be described as typical of postmodern practice in that they have no final form or meaning. The work refutes the convention of artistic composition by breaking free of the confines of the frame, and by granting the owner a special role in determining the placement and hence meaning of the parts.