Through a swift series of changes, Mickey Mouse becomes ancestral tiki, extending his bright red tongue in the threatening pūkana gesture. But who’s threatening who? If the expression ‘seeing red’ can mean getting cross, then perhaps the tiki doesn’t like this transformation, and is surprised by this artist and whatever he thinks he’s up to. And how does Mickey feel?
For much of his career Dick Frizzell’s work has focused on the slogans of popular culture, exploring the way that very simple images can carry the weight of cultural significance and associations. He has said: “Walking through a supermarket, I feel like Van Gogh walking through a wheatfield”. Here, with his customary humour, Frizzell pays a provocative homage to two significant cultural icons, Mickey Mouse and a Maori tiki. The print also shows Frizzell’s interest in a formal creative problem of how to make the visual transition between two very different images with vastly different backgrounds.
Born in Auckland, Frizzell graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1964. From 1967 to 1979 he worked in film animation, advertising and freelance book illustration and was responsible for some of New Zealand’s most enduring commercial icons. He was appointed to the position of lecturer in Fine Arts at Auckland University in 1980. Frizzell has exhibited throughout New Zealand and his work is held in most significant public collections.