Karl Maughan completed his studies at Elam School of Fine Arts in 1987 and five years later made his first brief visit to Britain....
About Karl Maughan
Karl Maughan completed his studies at Elam School of Fine Arts in 1987 and five years later made his first brief visit to Britain. Back in New Zealand and facing a shortage of both sales and feedback, the idea of working in London appealed. He made the move in 1994 and fortuitously found space in a studio, sharing with recent graduates from Goldsmiths College.
Gardening parents appear to be the source of Karl Maughan’s choice of floral subjects, however, his luxuriant canvases are more concerned with the expression of light and colour than with the flowers themselves. All gardens are up for grabs and Maughan’s sources stretch from Albert Park to Alhambra, taking in Taihape and Sissinghurst. “These painted gardens are carefully stage managed, their flowers chosen as compositional elements rather than as representatives of any particular flora. Maughan aims to show things as they are seen - even if they have been wilfully transplanted. This well-honed naturalism tends to overlook the downside of the natural cycle: rot, wilt and insect strike are banished in the cultivation of the ideal. Other elements are added, transposed and intensified, as required. Decisions are made as the work progresses, to enliven the surface and take it beyond the limiting challenges of rendering a photograph." (Richard Wolfe, “Interflora", Art NZ #97 / Summer 2000, p. 65)
Maughan’s works are painted in oil, often on a huge scale, with small painterly brush strokes. The result is works that move between the technical virtuosity of the super realists and the tactile pleasures of expressionism.
Although by description, Maughan has been painting the same subject for the past fifteen years, the works have developed considerably within this time. Less thick and painterly, the surface of the recent works is nonetheless fairly abstracted when looked at closely. Brushstrokes are deliberate and distinct in the manner of Impressionist painters such as Monet and Seurat. When viewed from a distance however, the effect is almost photographic.
Maughan loves the narratives that viewers create for themselves as they enter his paintings. “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."