B.

Light Passing Into a dark landscape

Behind the scenes

Today is the centennial of the death of one of New Zealand's most treasured artists, Petrus van der Velden.

Petrus van der Velden, Mount Rolleston and the Otira Gorge (1893) oil on canvas. Collection Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, purchased 1965.

Petrus van der Velden, Mount Rolleston and the Otira Gorge (1893) oil on canvas. Collection Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, purchased 1965.

I love van der Velden's Otira paintings particularly the Mount Rolleston series with the example above being one of my favourites. Located in the heart of Arthur's Pass National Park this is a landscape that you can still experience as van der Velden did in the 1890s, little has changed. Mount Rolleston and the Otira Gorge is imposing, dark, brooding and with its sparse half light is just plain heavy, factors found in many of the artist's Otira works that no doubt appealed to Colin McCahon when he completed The days and nights in the wilderness, showing the constant flow of light passing into a dark landscape in 1971.

To coincide with the centenary of van der Velden's death Te Papa are hosting a symposium with several speakers discussing van der Velden's work, details here.  I'm particularly looking forward to Jonathan Mane-Wheoki's paper From Marken to Muriwai: Walking with Van der Velden and McCahon, well worth the effort if you can head along.

Colin McCahon The days and nights in the wilderness, showing the constant flow of light passing into a dark landscape (1971), acrylic on canvas. Collection Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Colin McCahon The days and nights in the wilderness, showing the constant flow of light passing into a dark landscape (1971), acrylic on canvas. Collection Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.