crossing the lake
richard McWhannell

3 - 21 December 2013

Richard McWhannell’s latest series of paintings draws on the clown Pierrot - specifically Watteau’s great painting of Pierrot known as Gilles - for inspiration.

The inspiration has a curious origin. McWhannell confesses that, had it not been for a brush cleaner called ‘Miracle Kumclean’ he would probably never have begun the series.

“Miracle Kumclean is a marvellous alloy of carcinogens that will revive the uncleaned brush or erase the unsuccessful painted dream. When finally I called time on a canvas once held dear (Poseidon and a Resurrection of Surfers), the hand went out for the scraper and the liquid means to rid the world of this once ‘with best intentions’ piece. No sooner removed, and with head reeling in solvent daze, there appeared in the Rorschach remnant stain a clown and two atop a rock in a cerulean sea.”

“While formalising the phantom image my thoughts turned to Watteau and his great painted Pierrot. Thus the proto-clown set out on a journey across sea, across land and through time. His vocation is to perform, his life is one of adventure, of dreams, musings and the rest. I’ve lost sight of him now; last seen at Pukekawa 1970.”

The original painting Gilles (1718-19) may be read as Watteau’s wry comment on his own mortality. Perhaps McWhannell is alerting us to familiar scenes we should re-examine for clues, re-evaluate for meaning. Or perhaps the artist is merely casting himself as observer so that we, in turn, may observe.

Pierrot and McWhannell end their travels through these paintings by asking a question of us... “Who fed the baby?”

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Crossing the Lake, 2012-13. Oil on canvas. 460 x 650 mm

SOLD

Appaloosa Night, 2013. Oil on canvas on board. 458 x 608 mm

SOLD

The Roehampton Reception, 2013. Oil on canvas. 507 x 607 mm

SOLD

Fin de Siecle, 2013. Oil on canvas on board. 706 x 917 mm

SOLD

Who Fed The Baby, 2013. Oil on canvas on board. 506 x 656 mm

SOLD

Tension Back-stage, 2013. Oil on canvas on board. 713 x 913 mm

SOLD

With Te Kooti and The Whanau, 2013. Oil on canvas on board. 458 x 608 mm

SOLD

The Last Depot, 2010. Oil on canvas on board. 405 x 505 mm

AVAILABLE

We Came Second, 2013. Oil on canvas on board. 404 X 508 mm

AVAILABLE

Visiting Geronimo, 2013. Oil on canvas on board, 601 x 730mm

AVAILABLE

The Performance Anxiety Dream, 2013. Oil on canvas. 352 x 274 mm

SOLD

The Desert Campaign, 2013. Oil on cloth board. 404 x 505 mm

AVAILABLE

With Mack Sennett's 'Bathing Beauties', 2013. Oil on canvas. 332 x 412 mm

AVAILABLE