Is there anything of which one can say look this is new?, 1982

Record number
Is there anything of which one can say look this is new?
synthetic polymer paint
unstretched canvas
1955 x 1810 mm
C. McC. MARCH '82 (vertical edge, b.r.)
Extended inscriptions
Is there anything of which one can say, Look,
this is New? NO it has already existed, long ago,
before our time.
ECCLESIASTES the emptiness of all endeavour
I the speaker ruled as king over Israel;
in Jerusalem.

and in wisdom I applied
my mind to study and
explore all that is done
under heaven. It is a
sorry business that GOD
has given men to busy
themselves with.
I have seen all the deeds that
are done here under the Sun;
they are all emptiness and chasing the wind.
What is crooked cannot
become straight;
what is not there
cannot be counted.

So I applied my mind
to understand wisdom
and knowledge, madness
and folly, and I came to see
that this too is chasing
the wind. For in much
wisdom is much vexation,
and the more a man
knows, the more he has to
I said to myself, 'Come, I will
plunge into pleasures and enjoy
myself' but this too was emptiness.
of laughter I said 'It is madness'
and of pleasure 'what is the good of that?'
So I sought to stimulate myself with wine, in
the hope of finding out what was good for
men to under heaven throughout
the brief span of their lives.
But my mind was guided by wisdom
- not blinded by

the sun rises and the sun goes down; back it
returns to its place and rises there again.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north
Round and round it goes and returns full
All streams run into the sea, yet the sea never
overflows, back from the place which the
streams ran they return to run again.
Exhibition history

1983 Colin McCahon: Two Recent Paintings
Peter McLeavey Gallery
12/4/1983 - 1/5/1983

1984 I will need words: Colin McCahon's Word and Number Paintings
Power Gallery of Contemporary Art, University of Sydney
11/4/1984 - 17/6/1984

1988 Colin McCahon: Gates and Journeys
Auckland City Art Gallery
11/11/1988 - 26/2/1989

1998 From the BNZ Art Collection
City Gallery Wellington
4/12/1998 - 21/2/1999

2002 Colin McCahon: A Question of Faith
Stedelijk Museum
30/8/2002 - 10/11/2002

Although this work and its companion, I applied my mind, were signed and dated in 1982, evidence suggests that they were substantially completed during 1980.
The texts used in the painting are drawn from Ecclesiastes 1: 5-7, 10, 12-15, 17-18; 2: 1-3, from the New English Bible.