'Titled Doors Flung Back' in Picton

21:12, Feb 11 2013
David Brown
By David Brown

The silver fern, the black singlet, and Captain Cook regularly feature in artist Nigel Brown's works, icons of his experience, observations and beliefs.

People in Marlborough can see some of his works in an exhibition opening this week at The Diversion Gallery in Picton. Titled Doors Flung Back, it embraces Brown's evolution of style in recent years, says gallery director Barbara Speedy.

"The most obvious shift is to vivid colours, influenced by a renewed encounter with German expressionism, in a transformative blazing way related to inner vision," she says.

David Brown
By David Brown

"The title work is a major triptych, about the strength of the rustic and the symbolism of space and opening. Doors are flung back, ideas are pushed out and away."

This will be the first time Brown, regarded as an "elder statesmen" in the New Zealand art world, has had an exhibition at The Diversion. He is expected to attend tomorrow evening's opening with his partner, Sue McLaughlin.

For the past 12 years the couple have lived at Cosy Nook near Bluff, where Brown continues to question modern values in an increasingly commercial world.


He graduated from the Elam Art School in Auckland in 1972 after being influenced by artist-tutors like Pat Hanly and Colin McCahon. The latter's use of words with visual imagery inspired Brown to include them in many of his own works.

He was a founding member of Visual Artists Against Nuclear Arms in 1984 and tackled other issues in his paintings and prints, including feminism and the peace movement.

Captain Cook and the Pacific were features of Brown's works in the 1990s, and in 1998 he was the first visual artist to receive the Artists to Antarctica Award.

He was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2004 for his services to painting and printmaking, and the following year took up an artist residency at the New Zealand Embassy in Moscow.

A new version of Brown's solitary black singlet man, a statement of identity, appears in oil and stainless steel on canvas in Doors Flung Back. Other paintings with scattered texts are underlined by a patchwork of strong colour, brighter than Brown's usual hues, Ms Speedy says.

A preview with the artist, Nigel Brown, starts at 6pm tomorrow in The Diversion Gallery, London Quay, Picton.

The Marlborough Express