Story: Painting

Nigel Brown, 'All our days'

Nigel Brown was inspired by expressionism, but he was unusual in directing his focus outwards upon New Zealand society and history rather than inwards towards his own psyche. In this acrylic on linen work, completed in 2008, Brown presents a tableau of iconic New Zealand figures: the mother and children, poet James K. Baxter, English explorer James Cook (whose ship, the Endeavour, is also referenced by the words 'all our endeavours'), a Māori god with an 18th-century wig and a black-singletted pioneer grasping an axe. In the background are references to the work of Brown's teacher, Colin McCahon – McCahon's famous painting 'I am' becomes 'we are', and the image of the candle on the table echoes a well-known still life by McCahon.

Using this item

Private collection
Acrylic on linen by Nigel Brown

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Courtesy of Milford Galleries Dunedin and Nigel Brown.

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Painting - Expressionism and postmodernism', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/zoomify/45911/nigel-brown-all-our-days (accessed 29 March 2020)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 22 Oct 2014