At first glance, there may seem little connection between Karl Maughan’s large painterly canvases, with their profusion of blooming colour, and the almost zen-like calm of Chris Charteris’ stone sculptures. Both, however, work to draw their own light on human action on the land.
Maughan’s work presents walls of colour, focusing on a profusion of rhododendrons and hydrangeas. The gardens are formal, with grassy paths leading between the giant bushes, yet there is something wild under the surface - some undercurrents of dark mystery and even danger. The paths seem to lead in structured, controlled directions, yet there is a sense that there is a power locked in the foliage into which the wanderer may fall. This is a garden shaped by humans but now reclaiming its identity. The tension is heightened by the vibrant brushwork, with the artist often merely hinting at the blooms with wild flourishes of sustained colourful energy.
Charteris’ heavily worked stone has little of the bright dynamism of Maughan’s work, but is just as powerful. Here too, the natural world has been shaped by human hands, but where Maughan’s paintings show land redesigned in order to impose the landscape gardener’s will upon it, these quiet, fascinating pieces draw their energy from the power of the rock and from the sympathetic way in which the sculptor has worked his materials.
Charteris has drawn from his European, Maori, and Pacific roots to create pieces in which aspects of the traditional arts of these peoples have intertwined. His inscribed and polished surfaces have an air of austere calm and a deep mana. His pieces are painstakingly worked, their rhythmic markings suggesting tukutuku, cave art, and lines of navigation. The alternating rough and smooth surfaces almost call out to be touched, as if to say to the viewer “we are here, acknowledge us”.