Richard McWhannell was born in Akaroa in 1952, and currently lives and works in Auckland. He studied the University of Canterbury at the School of Fine Arts in the early 1970s, where he was taught by Rudolf Gopas and influenced by friendships with Toss Woollaston and Tony Fomison.
Throughout his career Richard McWhannell had painted both figurative, portrait and landscape paintings. He paints observed realities and imaginative scenes. As he explained:
“There’s an argument that goes on in my painting—it’s circular and involves degree. To what extent should one be literal and how far painterly—how much observed and how much imagined? Observation is in a sense easier and more satisfying in its process, at least I’ve found it so…Yet to work from behind the eye, from the back of the brain—to conjure an image out of feeling seems somehow a more noble aspiration. To pull a character out of thin air is especially sweet.”
McWhannell has exhibited widely in group and solo shows throughout New Zealand, with a recent retrospective at the Pah Homestead in Auckland in 2015. He had a portrait commission for The Commonwealth Secretariat in London in 2006. Over the years, McWhannell has had a number of Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council grants, enabling him to travel to Europe to see the originals of his favourite masters, Goya (1746-1828), Caravaggio (1573-1610) and Velasquez (1599-1660). His work is held in public and private collections throughout the country including: Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki; Christchurch Art Gallery, Te Puna o Waiwhetu; Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa; The James Wallace Arts Trust.
Exhibition: Recent Paintings 24 April–18 May, 2018