Raised in the Eastern suburbs of the greater Auckland area, Benjamin is a core member of the international art collective, TMD, and is also an active member of the Tongan art collective, No’o Fakataha. With a solid grounding in aerosol painting, his initial creative output centered around sub/pop-cultural influences that emerged from North America in the 1970s -1990s. Since then, Benjamin has continued his journey of ancestral discovery and steadily developed his interests and research into aspects of Tongan history and culture.
Benjamin’s practice extends across a diverse range of
For King and Country / Ma’ae Tu’i mo e Fonua is a body of work that calls into question the common misconceptions around the recording of historical encounters in Tonga with early explorers such as Captain James Cook. These accounts have survived to the present day and are referred to in exhibitions and publications and are often (mis)interpreted as historically accurate. This exhibition follows on from a recent research trip to museums across Europe and the United Kingdom, where Benjamin gained access to view and handle a large number of 18th and 19th century collections, comprised of historically significant artefacts made by Tongan master artists, many of which have rarely been seen let alone handled. In light of this research trip, the works that make up For King and Country / Ma’ae Tu’i mo e Fonua are a manifestation of the experience and insights gained. This exhibition makes a case for the importance of critique when considering early historical accounts, alongside an appeal for successive generations to build on this rich history from a Tongan perspective.
Benjamin has exhibited in a number of group and solo exhibitions including: For King and Country / Ma’ae Tu’i mo e Fonua, Bergman Gallery, Rarotongam 2017; For King and Country / Ma’ae Tu’i mo e Fonua, Mangere Arts Centre Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, Auckland 2015; Post-Graffiti Pacific, aMBUSH Gallery, Sydney, 2015; Toutouta, Olivia Laita Gallery, Auckland 2015; I See Red I See Red I See Red, Fresh Gallery, Auckland, 2014; If These Walls Could Talk, Imperial Lane, Auckland, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland 2014; Louder - The Serigraph Pop-Up Exhibition, Studio 40, Auckland, 2014 and Art Basel, Miami, 2010.