Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki presents A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland, an exhibition of work by one of New Zealand’s foremost artists, Colin McCahon (1919–1987).

McCahon’s work is marked by a strong spirit of experimentalism and independence. Today, he is widely regarded as one of Australasia’s key 20th-century artists.

A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland traces the artist’s development over the 30 years he lived in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and reveals the significance that place had for his painting and its presence in his art.

Auckland Art Gallery Director Kirsten Paisley says, ‘Colin McCahon’s contribution to art in New Zealand is immense. Not only was he a leading painter, but also an influential teacher, curator and critic. And he is a significant figure in Auckland Art Gallery’s history, serving as a Keeper and later Assistant Director over a period of almost a decade.’

‘We are excited to share this exhibition, which presents an in-depth look at some of McCahon’s most important artworks – paintings that continue to resonate with us a century after his birth.’

A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland features 25 key paintings drawn from Auckland Art Gallery’s renowned collection, as well as from private holdings, and includes works that have rarely been seen.

The exhibition marks the first public display of painted windows from the Convent Chapel of the Sisters of our Lady of the Missions, Remuera. Completed by McCahon in 1965, the 13 glass panels came from the decommissioned chapel and were gifted by the Sisters to the people of Auckland in 1989. Preserved by the Gallery’s conservation team, the windows will be displayed with digital renderings of how they first appeared when installed in the Chapel.

Shifting north in 1953, from Christchurch to Titirangi in West Auckland, McCahon’s physical relocation parallels a move away from figurative paintings based on Bible stories and towards an engagement with his immediate environment. Over the subsequent 30 years, his painting reflected local places: the kauri forest surrounding his house at French Bay; the factory roofs of the inner city; the sun moving over the Waitakeres; and the gannet colony at Muriwai. A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland explores the deepening metaphorical significance of the Auckland landscape in McCahon’s painting.

The exhibition will also explore the broader context in which McCahon painted and his role as an energetic force and active participant in the local art scene.

A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland is curated by Auckland Art Gallery’s curators Ron Brownson and Julia Waite.

Colin McCahon May His light shine (Tau Cross) 1978-1979

Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 1980

Courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust.

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Last updated: 15 June 2019