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Yonel Watene

Yonel Watene (b. 1989) is an Auckland born, Dunedin-based contemporary artist of Māori (Ngati Maru (Hauraki)) and Greek descent. Watene's work is heterogeneous in nature. Originally being trained in illustration, Watene is most known for painting, but also makes sculpture, installation, photography and prints. Having first exhibited in 2006, Watene has spent the last 12 years developing a diverse practice that speaks to autobiographic sources, art historic traditions and modern cultures - including anything from tagging as a youth, to skating Auckland City's streets, bebop and blues' influence on modern cultures, and growing up as a Māori youth in modern day Aotearoa. His most well known paintings refer to the expressive mark making rooted in the Neo-Expressionist traditions circa the 70s and 80s, but he also looks as far back as well known Modernist traditions from the early 20th century, which showcases an interest in speaking to art history's important narratives. 
He studied fine arts, and later economics, at Auckland University of Technology, graduating in 2010. He Founded SAVOIE de LACY, a small gallery and studio based in Ravensbourne, Dunedin, which operated from March 2016 to August 2017. During this time he organised a full-time exhibition program that included numerous solo and group exhibitions that featured local, national and international artists. He also hosted two artist-in-residencies (hosting Auckland artist Paris Kirby and skateboarding legend Lee Ralph) and self-published two publications (The Sun Moon and Stars (2017), an art book dedicated to the artists father, and RAVEY (2016), an art book dedicated to Ravensbourne and West Harbour). In 2017 he was invited to feature in Anything could happen, an art exhibition at Yu Gallery, Shanghai, that featured established Dunedin artist, which included notable artists Kim Pieters and Ewan McDougall. During September 2017 he was artist-in-residence at Casa Lu, Mexico City, where he featured in Casa Lu's Gallery Weekend exhibition (alongside French artist Noemi Vulpian). He will also showcase his artwork during a solo exhibition at Casa Lu in late October 2017. He was a finalist in the 2016 Parkin Prize in Wellington

Notable collaborations include: photographing Moreporks Summer 16-17 Pride of the South catalogue; and working with Sila Dora, a London-based fashion label, who created a series of Italian silk-scarves based on Watene's artwork. 

Artwork from his latest works on paper series can be found in private collections in Granada, Spain, New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., USA, Oaxaca, Mexico, Gold Coast, Australia and throughout New Zealand. He has artwork in the Chartwell Collection (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki), and his publications are held in the Hocken Collection (Otago University).
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