Karl Maughan grew up in Palmerston North, before attending Elam School of Fine Arts in 1983. During his years at Art School, Maughan began working with garden scenes as a way of dealing with light, shade and composition. The subject matter suited his explorations with paint, and gardens have been the subject of Maughan’s work for over 30 years. He writes, “I’m interested in all the cultural associations we all have with the idea of the garden. They are a central part of the idea of civilisation, the first instance of humans asserting their control over nature.”
In his latest exhibition, an early work titled Diane, 1994 is exhibited alongside a new series of paintings. The juxtaposition of an older work with recent paintings highlights Maughan’s shifts in technique over time. In Diane, soft pinks and subtle tones of green build a life-like garden scene drenched in sunlight. Maughan’s brushstrokes are small and layered, giving attention to individual leaves and petals. In Maughan’s most recent body of work, colours are brighter and more dramatic, with brushstrokes that are rhythmic applications of paint. The scene shifts from reality to a garden that is highly-constructed.
A feature of the exhibition is Maughan’s latest screenprint Zig-Zag Road (2017) which has been published with industry experts Artrite Screenprinting. The work has an elaborate layering of 35 colour separations and took six months to produce. In the work, a winding path draws the viewer into the composition, surrounded by vibrant, flowering rhododendrons.
Karl Maughan’s career highlights include the Saatchi Collection Catalogue Show at Saatchi Gallery, London, (1998), and solo exhibitions at Vertigo Gallery, London (2003) and at The 360 Space, New York (2016). His works are widely collected by private patrons in New Zealand and Internationally. His largest painting to date, A clear day (1999), is in the permanent collection of Te Papa Tongarewa.