Rare paint­ings at Ex­pres­sions

Upper Hutt Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - MATTHEWTSO

A strik­ing col­lec­tion of paint­ings, some never be­fore seen, by New Zealand painter Nigel Brown are on dis­play at Ex­pres­sions.

The Nigel Brown; I AM/WE ARE ex­hi­bi­tion has been tour­ing the coun­try and fea­tures work span­ning more than 30 years of Brown’s ca­reer.

Ex­pres­sions Whiri­naki di­rec­tor Leanne Wick­ham said it was ex­cit­ing to have such a large col­lec­tion of paint­ings from one of New Zealand’s most im­por­tant fig­u­ra­tive painters on dis­play in Up­per Hutt.

Among the works are 25 large paint­ings that have never be­fore been dis­played in gal­leries and Pa­cific-in­spired wood­block prints, along with the orig­i­nal wood­blocks.

‘‘It’s a big col­lec­tion. A lot of it is drawn from his per­sonal col­lec­tion, so many of the works have never been seen be­fore.’’

Brown, who now lives in South­land, grew up in a pack­ing shed in Tau­ranga which gave him a unique in­sight into that as­pect of New Zealand life.

Com­mon fea­tures in his work are the com­bi­na­tion of bold text and im­agery, of­ten of ar­che­typal New Zealand icons and scenes such as the man wear­ing a black, woollen shear­ing sin­glet and the Ed­monds bak­ing pow­der tin.

He draws on a broad range of sub­ject mat­ter; from Cap­tain Cook and coloni­sa­tion, to ur­ban or city scenes and cap­i­tal­ism.

Wick­ham said Brown ex­plored what it meant to be a New Zealan­der and it was this ex­am­i­na­tion of cul­ture and his­tory that made him a painter of na­tional im­por­tance.

‘‘He’s been de­scribed as the most New Zealand of New Zealand painters. The ideas and im­ages are linked with the his­tory of Aotearoa. [He ex­plores] so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues; the Spring­bok tour, fem­i­nism, cap­i­tal­ism, na­ture and the en­v­i­ron- ment.’’

Brown has re­ceived ac­claim through­out his ca­reer and was picked to un­der­take an artist res­i­dency in Rus­sia in 2007. He was also the first Art Fel­low in the Artist to Antarc­tica pro­gramme.

He was awarded the Or­der of NZ Merit for Ser­vices to paint­ing and print­mak­ing in 2004.

*

Nigel Brown; I AM/WE ARE

is on dis­play at Ex­pres­sions Whiri­naki un­til Novem­ber 5.

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