Nationality: New Zealand
Website: Website
New Zealand artist
Born in Akaroa 1952
Lives and works in Auckland

In 1972 Richard McWhannell spent time with artist Toss Woollaston in Nelson, a formative experience which confirmed the direction of his own painting. He returned to art school in Christchurch, mindful of the Modernist tradition as adopted by regionalist painters in New Zealand.

Born in 1952, at Akaroa on Banks Peninsula, Richard McWhannell completed a Diploma of Fine Arts at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury in 1972. Six years later he moved north, and began painting the urban landscape of Auckland. At first these were cool images of rectilinear buildings, and mostly devoid of human presence. Shortly, McWhannell began to populate his deserted landscapes and, at the same time, moved from regionalism to paintings of the imagination.

In 1982 McWhannell traveled to Europe, studying paintings and churches and public collections. In particular he admired the work of Goya, and his creation of mystical experiences. Back in New Zealand McWhannell was able to consolidate and transform the various traditions he had studied, and eventually establish an approach of his own.

The mid-1990s saw a number of self-portraits and figures in elegant staged settings. His subjects are personal, distinguished by cool tones and distinctive perspectives. Humour is a regular component of McWhannell’s work, as is his study of human inadequacies. These include vulnerable nudes, and nameless genderless figures isolated in a minimal environment. The artists aim is to “represent concentrated experience” and “to relate certain simple urges of an innocent (almost) humanity with humour, and free from moral speculation”.

Richard McWhannell’s artistic output has encompassed bronze-casting, carving in wood and stone, watercolour paintings and printmaking at Muka Studios.