“A powerful and unique force in New Zealand painting .... the most articulate painter currently operating in this country” states long-time friend and leading art writer, Gordon H Brown. Colin McCahon has had a profound influence not only on the modern generation but on the way New Zealanders see their landscape.
The Second Gate Series (which incorporates 16 panels) was painted after McCahon’s shift from bush-clad Titirangi to inner city Auckland. The Gate rectangles and planes are based on the hard forms of roofs and buildings against the bright Auckland sky.
The expressed original intention of these paintings or series was “a large scale statement on nuclear war.” For McCahon the need to communicate to an audience greater than himself can be seen in his use of words. In the Second Gate Series passages were supplied by John Caselberg, the poet.
As McCahon wrote to Caselberg “I am becoming involved with an idea for a large-scale statement on nuclear warfare, this to take the form of a screen …. I will need words. The new series goes under the general title of “Gate” by which I mean a way through. What I want with this screen is a way through also. Words can be terrible but a solution must be given. In spite of a message which can burn I intend a painting in no way expressionistic but with a slow emerging order.”
This painter is not only important nationally but has a universal significance.
'Gates open on war statement', Eastern Courier, 16-04-1986