An exhibition which surveys the work of Richard McWhannell opens at the Fisher Gallery, Pakuranga from 29 October - 27 November 1988.
This exhibition brings together a total of over sixty paintings, sculptures and lithographs from public galleries, the artist’s and private collections.
McWhannell graduated from art school in Christchurch in the early seventies. Between 1972 and 1977 he lived variously in Nelson, Akaroa, Christchurch and Motueka. Since 1978 he has been based in Auckland.
Early paintings evolved through associations with New Zealand painters such as Toss Woollaston and Tony Fomison. He remarked in an Art New Zealand article by Rhonda Bosworth, ‘My influences have been largely local. What better way to learn and share with people of one’s own culture? In a sense, Toss Woollaston’s work represents my love of Cezanne, and Tony Fomison’s work my love of Goya. But my influences are far more complex than that, and so are theirs.’
A selection of works in the exhibition center around McWhannell’s exploration of the self portrait. This is a subject which the artist has constantly returned to. He comments, ‘By painting myself I can scrutinize the familiar, make small distortions to enliven the image. I don’t paint self portraits to promote my own image so much as to involve my love of painting.’
Within the area of the exhibition a group of sculptures will be included. Many of these works have been referenced in his paintings.
A large sculptural piece Dear Devil created for this years Stone Sculpture Symposium in Christchurch will be placed for display in the Sculpture Court. McWhannell was one of the initial group of carvers invited to the inaugural Symposium at Western Springs in 1986. He has spent the early part of this year in Christchurch making this work for their similarly organised event.
Continuing from the Art New Zealand feature he says ‘Painting and sculpture, although fundamentally different - one illusion, the other fact - are imperative to my work. I can’t limit myself to one form of expression. My work is an investigation of my personal obsessions. The relationship between the two media is symbiotic. By doing both painting and sculpture I am making a connection that helps in both representations. All the faces I carve are representations of individuals. It seems to be necessary with sculpture to have a strong formal base in terms of keeping the forms simple. But within that necessary limitation one can make strong individual characterisations. In painting, which is far more plastic, that limitation doesn’t exist as such.’
→ McWhannell displays personal obsessions, Eastern Courier, 02-11-1988
→ Richard McWhannell, Home and Building, October-November 1988
→ Strength through tradition, New Zealand Herald, 03-11-1988
→ Richard McWhannell: Survey 1978-1988, 1988, exhibition card