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Epic painting makes first return to Auckland

As part of the Colin McCahon centenary year, an exhibition at Te Uru in Titirangi will see McCahon’s epic 10-metre mural, Gate III, make its first appearance in Auckland since it was originally commissioned for Auckland City Art Gallery’s Ten Big Paintings exhibition in 1971.

2019 marks 100 years since the birth of one of New Zealand’s most important painters, on 1 August 1919. To mark that anniversary, Te Uru are working with Victoria University of Wellington to bring one of McCahon’s most monumental paintings back to the city where it was first shown.

Literally a ‘one painting’ exhibition, ‘A way through’ Colin McCahon’s Gate III gives audiences an opportunity to get up close to one of McCahon’s biggest but least well-known paintings, and to learn about its history and its message through a fascinating display of archival material gathered especially for the occasion.

“It is amazing that such a major work has not been seen outside Wellington since 1972,” says Te Uru Director, Andrew Clifford. “We are proud to be the first venue to show Gate III since its original exhibition. It is fitting that we will show it so close to the McCahon family’s first Auckland residence and his later Muriwai studio. The primal landscapes of West Auckland, both the kauri forests and the west coast, were a huge influence on McCahon, as well as many other artists that have made this area their home.”

Gate III was painted in Auckland, drawing on a combination of west-coast views, rural landscapes and religious texts. It returns to the ‘I Am’ motif that he first painted while living nearby in Titirangi in the 1950s and anticipates the grand works he would paint from his new studio in Muriwai.

Immediately following the nationwide tour of Ten Big Paintings, Gate III was purchased in 1972 for the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection, which is managed by the staff of the Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, who have developed and toured this exhibition.

“Implicit in the painting is McCahon’s acknowledged ambition to make a statement against the nuclear threat, a statement that would reach even the most sceptical viewer of modern art,” says Adam Art Gallery Director, Christina Barton. “Given humanity’s indefatigable and self-centred quest for power, this message still resonates today.”

“We are excited to put the painting on the road, to have audiences confront the work that has graced our walls for nearly half a century, to give them the chance to talk back to greatness.”

‘A Way Through’ Colin McCahon’s Gate III will be at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery between 24 August and 20 October 2019. The exhibition will then be staged at Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi from 2 November 2019 to 22 March 2020. ends

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