McCahon, Colin - Truth from the King Country; 1978
by Te Papa Store
Colin McCahon is widely recognised as New Zealand’s foremost painter. Over 45 years, his work encompassed many themes, subjects and styles, from landscape to figuration to abstraction and an innovative use of painted text. His adaption of aspects of modernist painting to a specific local situation and his intense engagement with spiritual matters, mark him out as a distinctive figure in twentieth-century art. He was born in Timaru but worked and lived all throughout New Zealand over the course of his career. He mixed contemporary art styles with the more traditional subject matter of landscapes and Biblical stories. From 1946 his paintings reflected a fascination with his stark New Zealand landscapes with characters and events of Biblical stories. Also at this time he began to include painted words in his work as a ‘way in’ to his images, again touching on this mix of traditional religious art and contemporary techniques. McCahon became a pillar of the New Zealand art community at this time, with his contributions to this community aiding in the development of New Zealand visual art during the twentieth century. ‘He was also a teacher, curator, and critic whose contribution to art in New Zealand is immense.’ – Preface to Gates and Journeys information brochure, Auckland City Art Gallery centenary exhibition.