'Sink the Rainbow Warrior!'
Rudolf Boelee
10 July, 1985 / 2006

PaperGraphica, Christchurch
11 July - 5 August 2006

Text: Marian Maguire
Photographs: David McKenzie

The Rainbow Warrior was the flagship of the international environmental organisation, Greenpeace. It had been in port at Auckland for three days and was scheduled to lead a fleet of vessels to Muroroa Atoll in protest against the French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. It never made that voyage.

Just before midnight on 10 July, 1985, two explosions rocked the harbour, sinking the forty metre Rainbow Warrior. Underwater charges had been placed by French frogmen blowing two holes in the vessel’s hull. The ship sank almost immediately. All the crew managed to escape, apart from the photographer, Fernando Pereira, who drowned.

Twenty one years later, Monday the 10th of July, 2006, Rudolf Boelee's exhibition “Sink the Rainbow Warrior!” (21) opens at PaperGraphica. The work in the installation presents a series of portraits of the French agents involved, the victim and background information about the incident.

The Rainbow Warrior bombing was the first time an act of international state-sponsored terrorism had been committed in New Zealand. It marked the end of our sense of security through isolation and the beginning of an era in which we have been forced to acknowledge that world politics, whether they are expressed through terrorism or environmental threat, can impact directly upon us.

Boelee believes that the content of this exhibition is highly relevant today; that twenty one years on we have come of age and must look forward with maturity. The major powers obsession with nuclear arms and the more recent sanctimonious “War on Terror” are continuing to threaten the peace, stability and ultimately the future of our planet.

'Sink the Rainbow Warrior!' (21)
Reviewer: Georgina Barr

'Sink the Rainbow Warrior!' by Rudolf Boelee is a thoughtful exhibition by an intelligent and insightful artist.

Boldly coloured and subtly shaded faces hang on the walls of PaperGraphica. Some stare out into the middle distance and attempt at making a connection while others avoid eye contact and turn away.

These seven acrylic portrait paintings - displaying those involved in the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior 21 years ago - are evenly placed around the warm main gallery and make a quiet, almost secretive atmosphere within the large room. All of the two large and five medium sized paintings have black backgrounds and each face is painted with white and only one other colour. In each work, the thick, block colour of the hair contrasts with the subtlety of soft tonal shading of the skin to create wonderful depth. The mix of textures, along with the black backgrounds and the use of hessian on board, produces a rough and sinister side to the subjects depicted.

The thick textures are also a change from the smoothness of the artist's well-known screenprints. This fresh angle to art-making shows the artist is comfortable working in different styles, and he does so with clever ease. 'Sink the Rainbow Warrior!' is a great example of good art. Both the technique used to create the paintings and the artist's intension behind the work show thoughtful talent. According to a recent newspaper survey, the majority of New Zealanders are not concerned about terrorist actions (such as the recent train bombings in India) occurring here. The intension behind Boelee's exhibition is to advise caution in this lackadaisical outlook and to advise New Zealanders not to forget.

The intelligence and depth of this exhibition fits well within PaperGraphica's walls. This art gallery and printmaking studio has created a relaxed environment that inspires and educates with every visit.