Colin McCahon - Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is

An introduction to Colin McCahon's Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is (1958-9), narrated by New Zealand actor Sam Neill.

Related

Exhibition
From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi

From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi

Colin McCahon’s shift to Titirangi in 1953 was a watershed moment in the artist’s career, providing the inspiration for him to develop his interest in cubism and abstraction.

Commentary
To Colin McCahon

To Colin McCahon

James K. Baxter’s 1952 poem ‘To Colin McCahon’ is an important marker in the long and sometimes tempestuous artistic relationship the two men shared. On an immediate level, the poem is a response to McCahon’s painting There is only one direction (1952), which he presented to Jim and Jacquie Baxter to mark the birth of their daughter Hilary after they had named McCahon her godfather.

Exhibition
McCahon / Van der Velden

McCahon / Van der Velden

An exhibition of two of New Zealand's most respected painters.

Notes
Canterbury Landscape by Colin McCahon

Canterbury Landscape by Colin McCahon

In 2014 we purchased an important landscape work by Colin McCahon. Curator Peter Vangioni speaks about this new addition to Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection.

Notes
‘Where the picture stops and the world begins’

‘Where the picture stops and the world begins’

The way a work of art is framed affects our perception of the piece. A bad frame can detract and distract, a good frame enhances and even extends a work. While the Gallery has been closed we have updated frames for a number of works in the collection.

Notes
Kauri tree landscape by Colin McCahon

Kauri tree landscape by Colin McCahon

This article first appeared as 'Mighty kauris inspired McCahon' in The Press on 10 February 2015.

Notes
as there is a constant flow of light

as there is a constant flow of light

On a recent printer's residency at the Otago University's Otakou Press Colin McCahon's huge mural painting Waterfall Theme and variations dominated proceedings.

Collection
Kauri tree landscape
Colin McCahon Kauri tree landscape
In 1958 poet and arts patron Charles Brasch, a great supporter of McCahon, said of the Titirangi works: 'These Auckland paintings seem an entirely new departure. The colour and light of Auckland are different from those of the rest of New Zealand; they are more atmospheric, they seem to have an independent, airy existence of their own, and they break up the uniform mass of solid bodies, hills or forests or water, into a kind of brilliant prismatic dance. Some of the paintings are explorations, evocations, of the kauri forest of the Waitakeres. In some you seem to be inside the forest, discovering the structure of individual trees, with their great shaft trunks, their balloon-like cones, and the shafts of light that play among them. In others you look at the forest from outside, as it rises like a wall before you, built up of cylinders and cubes of lighter and darker colour, with its wild jagged outlines against the sky.' (From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi, 17 September 2016 – 6 February 2017)
Collection
Nor'western Sky
Petrus van der Velden Nor'western Sky
“‘Colour is light’ and there is no darkness at all – there is light or less light. In each part, even the darkest, there is some light and the difficulty is to get the different kinds of light showing in even quite small parts. There are no hard lines in nature – the light shines in and round everything and breaks all the hardness by modifying and diffusing the apparently sharp edges.” —Petrus van der Velden (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Notes
Light Passing Into a dark landscape

Light Passing Into a dark landscape

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

Notes
There is only one direction by Colin McCahon

There is only one direction by Colin McCahon

This article appeared as 'Divine Innovation' in the The Press on 31 August 2012.

Notes
McCahon rocks

McCahon rocks

Oh yes he does.

Collection
There is only one direction
Colin McCahon There is only one direction
This pared back, strikingly modern Madonna and child was painted in the Christchurch suburb of Phillipstown where Colin McCahon, perhaps New Zealand’s most acclaimed twentieth-century artist, lived with his family between 1948 and 1953. In contrast to the typically grander, often lavish treatment of this traditional subject within art history, McCahon’s composition is personal and startlingly bare, reduced to two naked figures framed within a rough oval that emphasises their close and enduring connection. Without haloes, thrones or attending angels, their identity is alluded to only through their grave sense of purpose and the work’s uncompromising title. McCahon gave There is only one direction to the renowned writer James K. Baxter and his wife Jacqueline, marking the friendship between the two families and McCahon’s position as godfather to their young daughter Hilary. The painting sat above Baxter’s writing desk for many years. (Unseen: The Changing Collection, 18 December 2015 – 19 June 2016)
Notes
As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land

As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land

After many, many months in the 'Darkness' of the empty gallery, I can think of no better words than those of Colin McCahon to signify the opening of the new gallery shop at 40 Lichfield Street.

Drop in Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, 10am-4pm Weekends

See you all soon!

Notes
O'Reilly/McCahon: an Easter meditation

O'Reilly/McCahon: an Easter meditation

An Easter-themed excerpt from an article published in 2010 in The Journal of New Zealand Art History...

Notes
Sutton high-fives McCahon

Sutton high-fives McCahon

Nothing made it into a W.A. Sutton painting by accident, and the white line that rises diagonally through the sky in Plantation Series II is no exception.

Article
Gazumped

Gazumped

One of the exhibitions brought to a halt by the 22 February earthquake was De-Building, which critic Warren Feeney had described only days earlier as 'Christchurch Art Gallery's finest group show since it opened in 2003'. Seven months on, the show's curator, Justin Paton, reflects on random destruction, strange echoes, critical distance, and the 'gazumping of art by life'.

Notes
Van der Velden vs McCahon

Van der Velden vs McCahon

Van der Velden is leaving the building.

Interview
Otira: it's a state of mind

Otira: it's a state of mind

A short road trip to the Otira Gorge was the scene for a conversation between Gallery curator Peter Vangioni and two of the artists included in Van der Velden: Otira, Jason Greig and the Torlesse Supergroup's Roy Montgomery.

Article
Van der Velden: Otira

Van der Velden: Otira

A first encounter with a painting by Petrus van der Velden more than twenty years ago was the start of many years of research for Gallery curator Peter Vangioni. Peter is the lead author of the Gallery's new book on van der Velden, and talks here of his fascination with the artist's Otira works.

Exhibition
Van der Velden: Otira

Van der Velden: Otira

This exhibition brings together a comprehensive selection of Van der Velden's paintings portraying the wild, untouched natural beauty of the Otira region's mountainous landscape.

Exhibition
Coming Home in the Dark

Coming Home in the Dark

Fourteen artists with connections to the Mainland are represented in an exhibition that explores the dark underbelly of the region's genteel appearance.

Exhibition
Colin McCahon

Colin McCahon

Two decades after Colin McCahon's death, this touring focus exhibition brings together paintings and works on paper by one of the most widely acclaimed New Zealand artists.

Collection
As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land
Colin McCahon As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land
“I was very lucky and grew up knowing I would be a painter. I never had any doubts about this. I knew it as a very small boy and I knew it later. I know it now when it is too late to turn back and only wish I were a better painter. Painting to me is like lambs born in the spring, rain, wind, sun. Like chopping down trees in the wilderness and living with the slaughtered stumps, of not seeing the beauty I look for, and also seeing the beauty of another world – of words. I talk all my paintings to myself.” —Colin McCahon (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Collection
Light falling through a dark landscape (A)
Colin McCahon Light falling through a dark landscape (A)
When asked in 1976, in response to the use of light and dark in his paintings, if he saw New Zealand as a land of contrasts, McCahon replied: 'Very much, incredibly. You can’t escape that of course, it’s there so it must filter through into things, but I don’t consciously strive for the New Zealand light. It’s just so beautiful, that’s all. You can do such a lot with it. That is if you’re not one of those fools that regards black as something other than colour.'If you regard it as colouring it’s a superb colour.' In an earlier interview, McCahon described his Necessary Protection works, to which this work directly relates: 'They have to do with the days and nights in the wilderness and our constant need for help and protection. The symbols are very simple. The I of the sky, falling light and enlightened land, is also ONE. The T of the sky and light falling into a dark landscape is also the T of the Tau or Old Testament, or Egyptian cross.' (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Collection
The Dutch Funeral
Petrus van der Velden The Dutch Funeral
Petrus van der Velden’s masterpiece The Dutch funeral forms part of a wider narrative sequence when placed in the context of his other Marken funeral paintings. Collectively the series tells the story of the death of a fisherman and his body’s journey from the beach to his village in a funeral barge; the procession of his casket from the church to the cemetery is the subject of The Dutch funeral. The tale of loss is seen in the individual faces following the coffin, from the grim staunchness of the men pushing the coffin sled, to the inconsolable women at the centre of the group and the pensive curiosity of the two children. (Brought to light, November 2009- 22 February 2011)
Collection
Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is
Colin McCahon Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is
“Driving one day with the family over hills from Brighton or Taieri Mouth to the Taieri Plain, I first became aware of my own particular God, perhaps an Egyptian God, but standing far from the sun of Egypt in the Otago cold. Big hills stood up in front of little hills, which rose up distantly across the plains from the flat land: there was a landscape of splendour, and order and peace. (The Crucifixion hadn't yet come: perhaps this landscape was of the time before Jesus. I saw an angel in this land. Angels can herald beginnings.) 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 (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Collection
Van Gogh: Poems by John Caselberg
Colin McCahon Van Gogh: Poems by John Caselberg
Vincent van Gogh was an artist with whom McCahon strongly identified. He produced this suite of lithographs based on several poems about the troubled Dutch artist written by his close friend John Caselberg. As an aside, van Gogh had met van der Velden in Holland on several occasions, and in 1883 wrote to his brother Theo of his admiration for the artist: I met Van der V. once, and he made a good impression on me at the time. I was reminded of the character of Felix Holt [the main character in George Eliot's novel Felix Holt, The Radical, who favoured a life of working class poverty over the comforts afforded through the wealth within his reach]. There’s something broad and rough in him that pleases me greatly – something like the roughness of torchon [a rough-surfaced paper]. A man who evidently doesn’t seek civilization in outward things but is much further inwardly, much, much further than most people. In short, he’s a true artist, and I’d like to get to know him for I would trust him and I’m sure I would learn from him. (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Collection
Windmill by Moonlight
Petrus van der Velden Windmill by Moonlight
“The greatest of all lessons is to learn to see. Many are ‘colour blind’ till they have their eyes opened to nature’s lessons, which she is always trying to teach us. But we must always tell what nature says to us, simply and directly without pretence or falsehood. Tell the Truth. Christ was the greatest artist. His words and pictures are a simple telling of nature's lessons – they are always the Truth. ‘We reason with colours. Colours are dead’, but by telling what nature teaches us the dead colours enable us to express the wonders and beauties of the Creator’s work.” —Petrus van der Velden (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Collection
Atmospheric Study, Sumner
Petrus van der Velden Atmospheric Study, Sumner
Petrus van der Velden valued the medium of drawing as highly as painting and was an extremely talented draughtsman. Spontaneously drawn outdoors directly before the subject, this small study shows Van der Velden’s interest in depicting dramatic, stormy atmospheric conditions with strong contrasts of light and dark. In the early 1890s, van der Velden and his family settled in Sumner, Christchurch where they stayed with the Van Asch family. Van der Velden immediately went about sketching in the region, and by the end of the year he had completed several major paintings based on Sumner scenes. Born in Rotterdam, van der Velden established himself as a painter, particularly of marine subjects, before he and his wife emigrated from Holland in 1890. He struggled to make a living in Christchurch, however, and moved to Sydney in 1898. He returned to settle in Wellington in 1904 and died in Auckland.
Collection
Mount Rolleston and the Otira River
Petrus van der Velden Mount Rolleston and the Otira River
Van der Velden described his first visit to the Otira Gorge: 'For the first three days I did nothing at all but just looked, it took my breath away.' The lines between religion and art were blurred for van der Velden, and he often drew similarities between the two: 'There is as much nonsense talked about art as Jesus and because it's the same business nothing is understood. Tell the people sometime that Rembrandt and Jesus have the same meaning; how they would laugh, and yet it is true – Rembrandt made a study of light during his life, and Jesus did nothing else.' (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Collection
Kauri tree landscape
Colin McCahon Kauri tree landscape
In 1958 poet and arts patron Charles Brasch, a great supporter of McCahon, said of the Titirangi works: 'These Auckland paintings seem an entirely new departure. The colour and light of Auckland are different from those of the rest of New Zealand; they are more atmospheric, they seem to have an independent, airy existence of their own, and they break up the uniform mass of solid bodies, hills or forests or water, into a kind of brilliant prismatic dance. Some of the paintings are explorations, evocations, of the kauri forest of the Waitakeres. In some you seem to be inside the forest, discovering the structure of individual trees, with their great shaft trunks, their balloon-like cones, and the shafts of light that play among them. In others you look at the forest from outside, as it rises like a wall before you, built up of cylinders and cubes of lighter and darker colour, with its wild jagged outlines against the sky.' (From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi, 17 September 2016 – 6 February 2017)
Collection
Blind V
Colin McCahon Blind V
The word ‘blind’ refers to a screen that cuts out light, but Colin McCahon also uses it to refer to an absence of vision. Questions of faith were important to McCahon and he often used references to blindness to suggest the inability to see the real essence and value of things. McCahon’s style was highly personal and distinctive. Blind V is part of a series of five works painted onto window blinds. The abstract forms have the feel of a beach and sky and it has been suggested that the ‘blindness’ which McCahon refers to was the inability of New Zealanders to really see and appreciate their own unique environment. McCahon is regarded by many as New Zealand’s greatest contemporary artist. Born in Timaru, he studied art in Dunedin. He lived in Christchurch for a time, became keeper and assistant director at Auckland Art Gallery, then lecturer in painting at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, before taking up painting full time in 1970.
Collection
Red and black landscape
Colin McCahon Red and black landscape
For the exhibition I See Red (5 December 2007 - 23 November 2008) this work was displayed with the following label: Colin McCahon’s combination of sky, sea and land is the simplest of landscapes, but by using powerful red and black, he has created a painting filled with mystery and weight. ‘Red sky at morning, shepherd’s warning, Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight’ goes the old saying. This could be sunset or sunrise, a perfect day to come or a perfect storm. Which would you choose?
Collection
Sumner
Petrus van der Velden Sumner
“Colour is light, light is love and love is God and therefore on Sundays instead of going to church I teach my children drawing after nature. I have come to the conclusion that painting or drawing after nature, instead of being a luxury is the most necessary for the education of man. […] The aim of our existence is nothing else than to study nature and with so doing to understand more and more how grand and pure nature is and gives evidence of so much love.” —Petrus van der Velden (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Collection
Northland drawings
Colin McCahon Northland drawings
“Once more it states my interest in landscape as a symbol of place and also of the human condition. It is not so much a portrait of a place as such but is a memory of a time and an experience of a particular place.” —Colin McCahon (McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)
Collection
Nor’western Sky
Petrus van der Velden Nor’western Sky
The hot, dry nor'west winds of Canterbury produce dramatic cloud formations and an atmospheric light. Petrus van der Velden has captured these effects with what is probably Christchurch's River Avon in the foreground. He lived near the river between 1890 and 1893. The colonial woman bent over, occupied with her task of work, has echoes of his earlier Dutch paintings, which focused on Dutch peasants at work. Van der Velden painted in a realist manner, which was influenced by his association with the Dutch Hague School of painters who favoured dark sombre tones and a loose style of brushwork. The nor'west scene is created by using strong contrasts of light and shade (chiaroscuro). Born in Rotterdam, Van der Velden established himself as a painter, particularly of marine subjects, in Holland, from where he emigrated in 1890. However, he struggled to make a living in Christchurch and in 1898 went to Sydney. He returned to settle in Wellington in 1904 but died in Auckland.