He Kupu Noatu: Paintings by Colin McCahon

  • He Kupu Naotu 1
  • He Kupu Naotu 2
  • He Kupu Naotu 3
  • He Kupu Naotu 4
  • He Kupu Naotu 5
  • He Kupu Naotu 6
Exhibition date:
02 May 2001 to 19 August 2001
New Zealand
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

McCahon’s interest in words dates back to the 1940s. Inspired by the Italian primitives and Sienese painters, McCahon started making paintings with speech bubbles and inscriptions. He also adapted the practice of relocating Biblical events into a local New Zealand landscape. This gave McCahon the freedom to develop his style and his word paintings, consolidate his explorations, and come to terms with modernism.

The exhibition’s title draws on the Mäori concept of 'he kupu noa a tu' a word or words that are from another time and place in the past. McCahon narrated, evoked, stirred-up, and restated with meaning the past to draw attention to ideas, location, and personal convictions about humanity. These selected paintings convey qualities and definitions that are boundless, have a sense of freedom, and are powerfully expressive.

Curated by Ngahiraka Mason