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Hero image for Signed, Theo Schoon

Signed, Theo Schoon

Film (Trailer) – 2021

I have no doubt where my heart really belongs and that is in Bali.
– Excerpt from a letter by artist Theo Schoon
At the age of 28 I thought that I was an extrovert and discovered I would make a perfect hermit.
– Theo Schoon on making a personal discovery
Theo Schoon’s charismatic personality, his desire to experiment in a range of media and to interact with Maori art and culture were a stimulus for other artists. Knowledgeable, committed and technically skilled, he occupies a significant place in New Zealand art.
– Excerpt from a short bio on Theo Schoon, Auckland Art Gallery
I think that those who have criticised this protest as trying to re-write history have failed to take into account that this is not a museum, this is a contemporary gallery. We aren’t wanting Schoon to be taken out of the history books, we just don’t believe he should be celebrated in a contemporary space, where his views simply do not belong.
– Artist and protest organiser Anna McAllister on the reasons behind a protest held at Auckland City Gallery, The Spinoff, August 2019
Schoon was an inquiry-driven artist. He described himself as a ‘cat sniffing around in a strange warehouse’. He worked across and between cultures and contexts, finding Paul Klee in the rock drawings of Te Wai Pounamu and art brut in the drawings of Rolfe Hattaway, a patient at Avondale Mental Hospital.
– Excerpt from a bio on Theo Schoon, Te Uru, Waitakere Art Gallery
A serial cultural borrower, Schoon is known for his performing of Javanese dance, for drawing over Ngāi Tahu rock drawings, and for his gourd carving. Not only that – as the exhibition catalogue tells us, by the end of his career “he would claim to be making authentic Māori art, the equal of any of the taonga preserved in local museums”.
– Excerpt from an article challenging the place of Theo Schoon in NZ's artistic canon, The Spinoff 8 August 2019
He can be accused of appropriation; while he recognised the value of Māori art he approached it in a way that’s problematic today. These are really important conversations to have.
– Te Papa curator Megan Tamati-Quennell on Dutch born artist Theo Schoon, The Spinoff, August 2019