Driving one day with the family over the hills from the Taieri Mouth to the Taieri Plain, I first became aware of my own particular God… Big hills stood in front of the little hills which rose up distantly across the plain from the flat land: there was a landscape of splendour and order and peace.
I saw something logical, orderly and beautiful belonging to the land and not yet to its people. Not yet understood or communicated, not even really yet invented. My work has largely been to communicate this vision and to invent the way to see it.
Colin McCahon 19661
The career of the Aotearoa/New Zealand artist Colin McCahon (1919-87) spanned four decades and he is internationally acclaimed as one of the most inventive and visionary artists of the twentieth century.
McCahon’s painting developed from conceptually diverse and often deeply personal points of origin. Driven by an intense desire to communicate messages, McCahon sought to reveal the cultural and spiritual forces that bind people to each other and to their particular environments. The search for a sense of place, notions of faith and doubt and the complexities of human existence are unifying themes throughout his work.
McCahon’s painting has been profoundly influential on the art and critical thinking of New Zealand and Australian artists. This exhibition, therefore, integrates the works of several artists whose concepts of place, identity, cultural memory and spirituality can be seen to be in dialogue with McCahon’s vision.
Colin McCahon – A time for messages has been organised to celebrate the Gallery’s recent acquisition of Colin McCahon’s One (1965), a significant early painting that has been a collection priority for several years. The NGV also holds a major work on paper, A letter to Hebrews (Rain in Northland) (1979), by McCahon.
Colin McCahon, artist’s statement in Colin McCahon: Gates and Journeys, Auckland City Art Gallery, New Zealand, 1988, p. 76.