Karl Maughan

New Zealand b. 1964

Karl Maughan is recognised for his hyper-real paintings of lush gardens and native fauna - flower gardens, vegetable gardens, manicured bushes and out-of-control wildernesses - Maughan finds inspiration in them all.ᅠ At first Maughan began painting these settings in the great tradition of ‘plein-air’ - in the outdoors. However, struggling with changeable elements such as wind, light and weather became too problematic.ᅠ Painting outdoors also became an issue when Maughan relocated to London in the 1990’s.ᅠ Based there for many years, cooped up in a studio in the East End, Maughan found that he missed the wide open spaces and lushness found in New Zealand gardens.ᅠ Maughan began to source a growing archive, capturing gardens on film, to take back to his studio where he could then play and reinvent colours, lighting and perspectives.ᅠ The resulting works were an explosion of colour, encompassing viewers in surrealist fantasy landscapes.

“These painted gardens are carefully stage managed, their flowers chosen as compositional elements rather than as representatives of any particular flora.ᅠ Maughan aims to show things as they are seen - even if they have been wilfully transplanted.ᅠ This well-honed naturalism tends to overlook the down-side of the natural cycle: rot, wilt and insect strike are banished in the cultivation of the ideal.ᅠ Other elements are added, transposed and intensified, as required.ᅠ Decisions are made as the work progresses, to enliven the surface and take it beyond the limiting challenges of rendering a photograph.” (Richard Wolfe, “Interflora”, Art New Zealand, #97 / Summer 2000, p. 65()

Maughan loves the narratives that viewers create for themselves as they enter his paintings.ᅠ Viewers can fanatisise walking along the garden paths, among the super-bright flowers and sunlight-dappled bushes.ᅠ “I’m interested in all the cultural associations we all have with the idea of the garden.ᅠ They are a central part of the idea of civilisation, the first instance of humans asserting their control over nature.”ᅠ A human-urge does exist to control the wilderness - engaging in pruning, planting, landscaping and pest-control, in the quest for beautiful surroundings.ᅠ Maughan’s gardens are just that - beautiful, without flaw or any sign of decomposing.

Although by description Maughan has been painting the same subject for many years, the works have developed considerably within this time.ᅠ Less thick and painterly, the surface of the recent works is fairly abstracted when looked at closely.ᅠ Brushstrokes are deliberate and distinct in the manner of Impressionist painters such as Monet and Seurat.ᅠ When viewed from a distance however, the effect is almost photographic.ᅠ These works move between the technical virtuosity of the super-realists and the tactile pleasures of expressionism.

Maughan’s paintings “exude confidence and colour, ….broad brushstrokes of bright paint, rapidly applied over shaded areas of the canvas, produce [sic.] an ultra realistic chiaroscuro-modelled three dimensional space, with great attention to the fall of shadow - brightly coloured brushes casting long shadows over Rita Angus green lawns.ᅠ In fact, the impeccable technique mimics the perfection of the gardens, as if untouched by human hands.” (Christopher Harrod, 'Karl Maughan, Jo Pegler, Emily Wolf' in NZ Art Monthly, Dec 05/Jan 06)ᅠ Maughan has long aspired to working on a huge-scale saying in 1998 - “It would be great to do some McCahon-sized walk-along sort of stuff”.ᅠ Large mural works to date have included A Clear Day, 2000 (Collection of Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington), The Stranger, 2002 (Collection of Sky City, Auckland), and a six-panel painting for the foyer of the Sky City Grand Hotel, Auckland in 2005.

Maughan is unlikely to give up his primary subject matter saying he finds endless inspiration in it.ᅠ In the past few years however, works have become less focussed on garden and more concerned with the landscape.ᅠ Rolling hills and tall trees have started to populate his backdrops.ᅠ This is the artist taking a step back and viewing his subject within a larger context.

Maughan holds a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts (Auckland University, 1987), and has been exhibiting in solo and group shows ever since. In 1998 two works were purchased for the highly prestigious Charles Saatchi collection (UK), with a number of further major commissions internationally resulting from this.ᅠ Maughan’s work is held in private collections in New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the UK.ᅠ After over ten years based in London, Maughan re-established himself in New Zealand in early 2005, returning to the original visual source of his paintings.ᅠ A major retrospective and publication on Maughan’s was shown at Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North in late 2007


1983-87 Elam School of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts Auckland, New Zealand

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2015  Waikato Solo Exhibition, Aesthete Gallery, Hamilton

2013  Long View, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland,

2012   In Through the Outdoor, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland

2011  Idlewild, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2009  Everyday is like Sunday, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

Blackbarn Gallery, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

2008 Martin Browne Gallery, Sydney, Australia

2007/2008 On a Clear Day, Te Manawa Gallery, Palmerston North

2007  Recent Paintings and Prints, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

2006 Outside, Martin Browne Fine Art, Potts Point, Sydney, Australia

2005 Kimbolton, Milford Galleries, Dunedin, New Zealand

2004 Karl Maughan: Recent Paintings, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2003 Park Lane, Vertigo Gallery, London, UK

Blow Up, St. Pauls Gallery, Birmingham, UK

The Visitor, Gow Langsford Gallery, Sydney, Australia

Walking in Light, Vertigo Gallery, London, UK

2002 Garden Centre, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2001 Milford Galleries, Dunedin, New Zealand

Art Lab, Imperial College Exhibition, London, UK

2000 Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

Karl Maughan, Art Hotel, Florence, Italy

1999 Crowd, Vynel St, London, England

Karl Maughan, Habitat, London, England

1998 Karl Maughan: Landscapes (with Dick Frizzell), Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland,New Zealand

1997 Great Outdoors, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

1996 Day Night, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

Love Lies Bleeding, Milford Galleries, Dunedin, New Zealand

1995 Green Triumph, Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

1994 Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1993 Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

Milford Galleries, Dunedin, New Zealand

1992 CSA Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand

1991 Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1990 Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

1989 Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1988 Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

1987 Garden Series II, Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

Selected Corporate Collections

Fletcher Challenge Limited, Auckland, New Zealand

Saatchi & Saatchi, Wellington, New Zealand

Saatchi Collection, London, UK

Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand

Sky City Casino and Sky City Grand



Images from Karl Maughan exhibition, August 2015

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