One of the country’s most renowned artists is being celebrated this month.
Colin McCahon, was born in Timaru on August 1, 1919 before moving to Titirangi in West Auckland.
To mark the centenary, the Auckland Art Gallery’s holding a special exhibition in his honour.
“Colin McCahon is so special to New Zealand and is perhaps the most significant pākehā artist ever,” Auckland Art Gallery’s director Kirsten Paisley told 1 NEWS.
McCahon’s art career had a remarkable start. Beginning as the gallery’s cleaner, McCahon went on to become the deputy director, and later, its curator.
“He’s quite possibly had the biggest influence of any person with any relationship to the gallery to date. He connected the gallery to the artists of this country and he also provided opportunities to learn about art.”
Some of his most notable work was inspired by his humble life in Titirangi, where he, his wife Anne and four children lived in a tiny one bedroom cottage, which was and still is surrounded in Kauri trees.
Viv Stone, Director of McCahon house says he developed skills and techniques that created his modernistic work, long before other artists caught on.
“He would get up in the morning and try not to turn his brain on and walk across the room to the window and squint his eyes and peer up at the Kauri trees and look at the way the light was playing in the forest,” she said.
Which resulted in some unconventional art that unfortunately the art community at the time didn’t appreciate.
“The general public were not quite so supportive and often very dismissive. In fact when he won one of the most supreme art awards at the time, he described the work that he won with as New Zealand’s most disliked painting.”
But it was McCahon’s art that later went on to break National records. In 2016 The Canoe Tainui sold for $1.35 million.
McCahon died in 1987. Viv Stone says it’s unfortunate the artist didn’t live during his success.
The team at McCahon House are running a special event to mark his centenary.