Ian Scott

New Zealand Painting

New Zealand Painting by Ian Scott

Artwork Detail

New Zealand Painting is a key homage to Colin McCahon; the artist’s teacher, friend and mentor. It brings together elements contained in the three important views of Otago Peninsula that McCahon worked on:

- Harbour Cone from Peggy’s Hill 1939

Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago

- Otago Peninsula 1946

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

- Otago Peninsula 1946-1949

Dunedin Public Libraries Ka Kete Wanaka o Otepoti

Mural-sized in scale, New Zealand Painting deliberately echoes the scale of Jackson Pollock’s mural Blue Poles (National Gallery of Australia). Like all the other paintings in the Signwriting Series, this artwork concentrates on the appropriated image. They all retain the integrity of the original without fracturing or distortion. In this sole instance, Scott subtlely brings together elements of all three McCahon Otago paintings to create an archetypal supra- image of a mid-20th century regional landscape view. Devoid of human presence, the McCahon painting is shown as a pure and original representation of the headland entrance to Port Chalmers. Overlaying the Otago peninsula landscape, as seen from its aerial perspective, is the phrase ‘New Zealand Landscape’. This multi-coloured text contrasts with the deliberately monochromatic landscape which consciously seeks to convey an essence of this landscape.

Colin McCahon stated on a number of occasions that as a child he observed a sign writer applying lettering to a shop window which then seemed to support floating letters. Ian Scott artist noted: “I was trying to suggest the splendour of McCahon’s original vision, the size and grandeur of it. I also wanted to make a post-modern work that was not arbitrary appropriation but was relevant in a specifically New Zealand context.”

The Signwriting Series is grand in scale. They are, in many ways, homages from Ian Scott to important New Zealand artists. He commented that he wanted them “…to deal with big issues in painting and human life, to say something which is an absolute and not just to make saleable gallery art to be used for decorative purposes.” He added “I worked with the sense that if the pictures were put out in Dominion Road they could visually hold their own.” As such this painting is unlike most other New Zealand paintings of the period 1986-1989.

New Zealand Painting
Ian Scott
Production date
acrylic and enamel on canvas
1815 x 4510 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Nan Corson and Chris Corson-Scott, 2014
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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