Mervyn Williams

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1940

Transfigured light II (to Colin McCahon)

  • Purchased, 1999
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • 1275 x 1120mm
  • 99/57
  • 1991

This unique abstract work is a result of Mervyn Williams’ intense research into the properties of light, surface, texture and colour. The 'transfigured light' of the title relates both to McCahon's religious paintings and to the rendition of light through an alchemical, painterly process.

Seemingly lit by an intense interior light, the painting appears to be made of anodised metal with a highly textured surface. In reality the surface is smooth, built up slowly with diluted paint. Although abstract, the painting has a strangely realistic quality.

Mervyn Williams was born in Whakatane and his family moved to Auckland in 1944. He trained as a commercial screen printer but at the same time took evening classes at the Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland. In 1977 Williams went to New York to study contemporary painting. He has used his screen-printing experience to make prints for a number of well-known New Zealand artists, including Gordon Walters (1919 -1995). Williams is one of New Zealand's senior abstract artists.