Modern Paints Aotearoa


exhibition Details

Discover how the introduction of new paints affected the work of New Zealand artists in this exhibition focused on paint media itself.

Not only was there a greater choice of paints from the late 1950s to early 60s, but experimentation was more widely accepted, freeing artists to move away from traditional oil on canvas. Enamels and water-based paints opened up new possibilities, resulting in innovative work with a variety of striking effects.

Colin McCahon's Northland panels (1958) from the collection of Te Papa, will be shown at the Gallery for the first time in 25 years and is an exhibition highlight. McCahon was at the forefront of experimental use of paint in New Zealand during that time - adding material such as sawdust and sand to his paint mix. Touch and feel the paint mockups and see historic art materials, alongside artwork made by artists who embraced the new media. The Northland panels was painted on the deck of McCahon's house in Titirangi (p. 54 of Colin McCahon: The Titirangi Years by Peter Simpson). The house is now a Museum and is open to visitors. For more information go to

The exhibition also includes works by Gretchen Albrecht, Rudolf Gopas, Ralph Hotere, Para Matchett, Gordon Walters and others.

Modern Paints Aotearoa is accompanied by a full-colour catalogue produced with the generous support of Resene.

Watch a video on the Conservation of Modern Paints with Tom Learner, Head of Science at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in Los Angeles. Tom worked in close collaboration with Auckland Art Gallery's Principal Conservator Sarah Hillary on this exhibition.

Curated by
Catherine Hammond, Caroline McBride and Sarah Hillary
Ground level
Free entry

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