Shades of McCahon in Brown
Nigel Brown remembers going to see a Sidney Nolan survey sometime in the mid-1970s, and chancing upon his former art school teacher, Colin McCahon.
"We ended up looking at it together," he says. "I can't remember much of the conversation, but he realised it was in a different direction to his own work, which at that time was moving into more abstract forms.
"I was attracted to [Nolan], but Colin was not interested in his obvious storytelling," says Brown, whose Lamp series - opening on Tuesday at the Warwick Henderson Gallery - includes the unashamed influence of McCahon, as well as borrowing the Ned Kelly mask so memorably used by the Australian painter.
The starting point for the series is an early McCahon of a kerosene lamp. The now anachronistic lighting device serves as a metaphor for casting light on people's lives. "I try to deal with archetypal symbols which will last the distance," Brown says.
The largest painting in the series, Hide and Seek, is a triptych grouping three of the characters Brown often uses: the poet James K. Baxter, a burly male in the Ned Kelly mask and Captain James Cook, in this case accompanied by his wife.NZ Herald October 11