Richard McWhannell – recent paintings – 23 April-18 May, 2018
We are delighted to present a major exhibition of paintings by Richard McWhannell. Auckland-based, he is nationally recognised as a consummate painter. Born in Akaroa, McWhannell studied at Ilam School of Art and has deep connections to the Canterbury region. This will be his first exhibition in Christchurch for ten years.
This exhibition is largely based on work shown in 2015 at OREX Gallery, Auckland. That exhibition was titled ‘Springs and Falls’. Also shown are three recent narrative paintings that follow but belong to a series titled ‘That Summer in the New Land’ of which Pig Island Postal Service was a part. The small head/face paintings are the most recent works. Technically they are ‘worked up’ monoprints.
The ‘Springs and Falls’ series followed a narrative series known as ‘Across the Lake’ which featured (Watteau’s) Pierrot, who in my series became an adventurer and a ‘time traveller’.
Those familiar with my work will be aware that I commonly mine art history. After the ‘Pierrot’ series I turned my gaze to Bosch and Breughel, with the thought that their surreal and busy worlds have a relevance to our time which, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll characterise as ‘chaotic’. Furthermore, I spend a fair amount of time as a recreational walker which generally includes passing through nearby Western Spring’s Park; where casual observations may turn up or inform details in these painted worlds.
From here I produced a series of similarly composed but far more graphically constructed paintings, given the over-arching title ‘Take Me to the River’; not represented in this show. Contemporaneous with that work I also came up with a small series of arcadian landscapes which became ‘That Summer in the New Land’. They reflect on my Canterbury settler heritage, as do the recent The Valley (Balguerie), The Road to Somewhere and The Road to Nowhere. These flip back to childhood memory, and belong to some conservative resting place, as I head deeper into less directed and randomly generated compositions.