Lewis Trembath is of Ngāi Tahu and Kati Mamoe descent. Lewis’ work is heavily influenced by Māori culture. His car images are symbolic of the progress of his Piki Te Hauora (recovery).
These works weave their message within the body of the artwork. Made with coloured pens and combining computer graphics with traditional representation, Lewis calls these works “traditional Māori fusion c’art works”. Lewis sees his art as a life-saving therapy.
Lewis is currently working on a series of stylised mandalas, which depict his journey to reclaim his Māori culture.
Lewis is inspired by Māori tattoo. He describes his process as taking a tattoo and deconstructing it. “I’m looking at the detail of the tattoo and adding my own twist to it. It looks Māori but not quite.” For Lewis, the reworked tattoos depict the effect of colonisation, and the reconstruction of Māoritanga. “It is empowering us to access what is our birthright – our language, our connection with whānau, our connection with the marae.”
Lewis is pushing the envelope in his experimentation with colour. Previously working in traditional red black and white, he is now exploring Māori patterns in non-traditional colours. He says he’s “going Andy Warhol” on colour, having seen bold contemporary colours on bodices of kapa haka costumes at Te Matatini. “I’m breaking away from tradition, but respectful of tradition.”