Upper Moutere by Toss Woollaston

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Friday 26 August 2011
Ron Brownson

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I have been looking daily at how our forthcoming display of modern New Zealand art will look on Saturday 3 September. The Gallery's new lighting system is the best technology that the artworks have ever been served by. It is pleasing to see what new lighting can improve how works are perceived. With a combination of wall washes and spotlights we have modulated both the ambient and direct light sources. 

A painting that I hope visitors will enjoy seeing is Toss Woollaston's Upper Mouterefrom 1946. This is not a painting that has been seem frequently yet it is a powerful example of how Woollaston would look at a view that he was totally familiar with in such an energetic manner. Although it is painted with oil paint it has the spontaneity of watercolour 

Toss wrote: 'I like to paint looking, with the light, towards the subject in clear weather. I am not a "weather" man - I am not interested in atmosphere… I'm interested in what I see, and seeing it in the clearest conditions you can get - no mysteries of that sort.' 

During the spring of 1945 Toss Woollaston and his friend Colin McCahon both lived in the Nelson area. World War II had just ended and they were encouraged that there was a more positive future for their family and for their vocation as artists. When Woollaston and McCahon met at this period they discussed art, especially the work of Paul Cezanne, which they studied from a recently published book. Cezanne taught them a lesson: to look at your own landscape so closely that you can visually represent its identity. Upper Moutere fascinated Woollaston and he painted it many times over the next forty years. 

CREDIT: 
Toss Woollaston (1910-1998) 
Upper Moutere 1946 
oil on board 
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki 
purchased 1959 
1959/8/1