Nigel Brown has established a reputation as one the most important figurative artists working in New Zealand and is acknowledged as New Zealand’s leading narrative artist. For forty years, Brown has used his art to address social, political, and environmental issues
Brown’s distinctive visual language uses recurring motifs, stylistic features and symbolic characters which are strongly grounded in a New Zealand vernacular, employing these to explore and critique this country’s past and present (his)stories. Replete with references to politics, history, literature and the environment, Brown’s re-framing of these narratives invites consideration of the human condition at both individual and collective levels.
In addition to his painting, Brown is also a printmaker and has undertaken two significant stained glass window designs – St Mary’s Catholic Church, Auckland (1991) and Auckland Cathedral, Parnell (1998). Recently Brown completed Seven Last Words (2009), a suite of lithographs commissioned by Chamber Music NZ in association with String Quartet in honour of the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death.
The 2018 exhibition at Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi projected Brown’s iconic narratives both in the works and the exhibition itself. Aptly with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in attendance, the exhibition opened on Waitangi weekend. In her essay on the exhibition, Anglea Middleton described the essence of the quintessential New Zealand artist, “Brown unearths the archaeology of the archetypes and iconography of Aotearoa, a bicultural nation… He is concerned with the politics of environmentalism and the natural world.”
Born in Invercargill, New Zealand in 1949, Nigel Brown (ONZM) gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Elam School of Arts in 1971 and began his full time artist career in 1972. Since then he has exhibited extensively in public and private galleries throughout New Zealand. His numerous awards, commissions and residencies include the Order of New Zealand Merit for Services to painting and printmaking (2004).