Colin McCahon ‘Masterpiece’ on show at DELL Gallery

Work from one of Australasia’s most influential modernist painters is on show at the DELL Gallery @ QCA until October 28.

Colin McCahon: A National Gallery of Australia Focus Exhibition brings together paintings and works on paper that reflect key concerns in McCahon’s art from 1950 through to the early 1980s.

Griffith Artworks Director Simon Wright said it had been 30 years since McCahon’s monumental painting, Victory over death 2 1970 was gifted by the New Zealand Government to Australia.

“It’s a very rare occasion when a work like McCahon’s Victory over Death tours anywhere, and I think I’m right to say it’s the first time this work has ever been exhibited in Queensland.

“As one of the most important works of art held in the National Gallery of Australia’s collection, and one of McCahon’s true masterworks, we are thrilled to be able to show it here at Queensland College of Art. It supports our claim that McCahon is one of the world’s most underrated artists in the 20th century,” Mr Wright said.

McCahon (1919—1987) is considered one of the most influential modernists in the Australasian region, producing his most strikingly original works from the late 1940s to the early 1980s.

His early figurative work of the 1940s and 1950s was dominated by images drawn from religious paintings, often set in the New Zealand landscape.

By 1959 he had produced his first body of ‘written paintings’ — the Elias series. From this time on, text was to be the central motif in McCahon’s work.

In the final decade of his career most of his works consisted solely of numbers and texts drawn from the Bible or from Maori and English poetry. In these works he explored his growing interest in Maori culture, personal responses to Christianity, symbolism of numbers, environmental concerns, and the challenges of faith.

“McCahon is a contemporary reminder that some of the greatest painting in world art through the ages has been influenced by deeply held spiritual beliefs,” Mr Wright said.

“The greatest artists somehow combine this with the language of painting so that it does not become a sermon to the audience about particular religions but an insight into the very human ways in which we need to believe in things, hold faith, or lose our convictions, as the case may be.”

Colin McCahon: A National Gallery of Australia Focus Exhibition will be on display at the DELL Gallery @ QCA until October 28 before commencing its tour to New Zealand.

MEDIA CONTACT: Arts & Education Communications Officer Deborah Marshall 07 3735 5245, 0408 727 734.