The cultivated, landscaped garden has been Karl Maughan’s subject focus since graduating from Elam Art School, University of Auckland in 1987. His acclaimed paintings celebrate the ideals of order and beauty yet are more concerned with the expression of light and colour than development of a purely botanical narrative. In the history of New Zealand art only Pat Hanly before him has produced a body of work so celebratory in tone.
Maughan appropriates images from a vast array of garden locations and across time. Through a process of re-composition he achieves a variety of effects, all which have been carefully managed. This consciousness and deliberate processing takes Maughan’s works away from the world of the simply pictorial to that of evocation and participation – there is an over-riding sense of space and harmony, of being able to “walk into” the architecture of his created gardens.
Maughan’s ability to present and celebrate the garden, and the viewer’s inclusive role in it is achieved by a process of scale exaggeration, perspective alteration, colour intensity, compositional rhythms, and “feel”. He is looking for the surprise between image and realisation, and it is precisely this that sees his paintings transcend their components and architecture. They become more.
Maughan is now using a fluid drawing-based style on top of his customary painterly process. This change has augmented the developed language of his works and enhanced his ability to paraphrase as well as his power to imply and state. The result is that there is a dance of visual rhythms across each work which achieves harmonic resonance and yet retains the hallmarks of accuracy and the sculptural dimension fundamental in his paintings.