I visit this just about every time I go to the Auckland Art Gallery. It never ceases to amaze me how a series of white (or sepia) lines on a heavily abstracted landscape can capture Christ’s journey to the cross so well and be so moving. Like most great paintings, though, you have to spend time with it for it to take effect.
When McCahon declared, ‘I will need words,’ in a 1961 letter to poet John Caselberg, he was saying he needed them for something. He wanted his paintings to speak: to cut through, to communicate, to be clear in a new way about human fears and hopes and about how to love authentically. And he saw that painted words were a way to approach spiritual realities and urgencies that resisted conventional picturing.Justin Paton, McCahon Country
I’m a little bit late posting this, because I started this blog on 22 April last year, but I’m happy to say I’ve been painting, and blogging here, for a year.
Once the painter was making signs and symbols for people to live by: now he makes things to hang on walls at exhibitions.Colin McCahon in McCahon Country by Justin Paton
My wife bought this for me for our twenty-second wedding anniversary. It’s a beautiful book, and Justin Paton is a great art writer (I’ve read his How to Look at a Painting). More importantly, I increasingly value McCahon’s work—not all of it, but much of it. It resonates deeply with me as a Christian, and I’m drawn to his aesthetic and his earthy colour palette. I love his landscapes (the less-abstracted ones) and his word-based paintings. I’ll be enjoying this for some time to come.