In many respects Elena is a truly exceptional unique woman. As the first classically trained Maori violinist, she’s achieved the status of a cultural icon in her native New Zealand. Her art is an idiosyncratic innovative fusion of the world of western classical music with the world of Maori culture.
Her epic production Elena´s “Cultural Symphony”demonstrated these disciplines powerfully and left the audience feeling that culture is universal, it is part of everyone. Due to the resounding success of her Cultural Symphony at the China Shanghai International Arts Festival 2006, the first New Zealand presence at this top world class festival, she was invited to represent Oceania at the 2010 World Expo opening ceremony in Shanghai along side such artists as Jackie Chan, Lang Lang and Andrea Boticelli.
When I visited Elena with OUBEYs painting in March 2012 at her home in Wellington, to my surprise – and indeed dismay – I first had to take a ride some 30 meters up in the air perched in the basket of a tiny, rather fragile looking private cableway that led directly to the terrace of her house. But the tribulations of this perilously steep ascent were well worth the effort.
OUBEY once said that he hoped that his paintings would be equally fascinating to native Australians and native New Yorkers. Seeing the reactions of Elena the Maori violinist made me realize yet again that his paintings do indeed have all the expressive force of a universal language that has no need of explanation or translation. And they possess this force even though they offer not the slightest concrete point of contact for the cross-cultural recognition of the (reassuringly) familiar.
Each Encounter has its own character. For me, Elena’s Encounter with this painting by OUBEY is imbued by a great sense of musicality, by spontaneity and sensitivity, by the spirit of the Maori and a deep understanding of the compositorial works of the great masters.