Residing in Australia, New Zealand artist Paul Jackson is a seven-time Archibald Prize finalist. Jackson aims at producing works that elucidate meaning and reason. “If the potential subject has some sort of psychological effect and carries a burden of idea and meaning, then that’s a starting point for me,” he says.

Born into a family of painters and designers, and with artists, poets and writers daily roaming through the Jackson family home in Auckland, it was inevitable that Jackson’s life would follow that same trajectory.

Archaeology is said to state that art describes society. For Jackson art is the archaeological examination of society that defines human beings, and like many artists living away from home he sees New Zealand clearly, from a distance.

His European and Polynesian genealogy makes his awareness, understanding and sympathy for ‘tangata whenua’ (Maori cultural references) a recurring, though not literal, theme in his work. These are his connections, his archaeologies, his ways to explore foundations both factual and fictional, remembered and re-imagined through the refracting lenses of detachment.

Jackson’s Archibald Prize success has given the impression he’s a portrait painter, but in the New Zealand works he is not.  A portrait is an actual person. His local works are simulacra. Jackson uses the human visage to uncover the land beneath. In his latest works, the possibilities of the human subject are expanded, taking on the properties of landscape with a tattoo of cultural and geographical references inscribed across flesh. He describes these works as a form of mental journeying and calls them works flesh-born landscapes. The designs are pieces of painterly language, excavations, of place and personage unintended as representations of anyone who actually existed. They represent, honour and inscribe our sense of place. Within them we find the land, our ‘burden of ideas and meaning’.


18 October - 12 November 2016

In this show, Jackson expresses admiration for the work of other artists such as Bill Hammond in Hat For Bill. He shows his support of the All Blacks through All Black, Only the Brave. He explores Christianity and the Maori culture using New Zealand cultural references. In Red Heart, the artist harkens back to the land of his birth, New Zealand.

The Burden of ideas and meaning

11 August - 5 September 2015

Jackson's paintings utilise his considerable skills in precision painting and grisaille technique to depict imagined subjects. He uses symbolism and historical referencing to express wider concepts, such as his concern for the land and customary rights of Maori and the history of human interaction in New Zealand.

View catalogue here.

Colin I, 2005. Oil on panel 370 x 230mm


The Angel, 2014. Oil on panel, 485 x 330mm


The Alchemy, 1991. Oil on linen (framed) 530 x 930mm


The Journey, 2015. Oil on panel, 475 x 340mm


Sleep Time Moko (a study), 2012. Oil on panel, 220 x 310mm


Bird With Nest, 2015. Oil on panel, 475 x 340mm


Geyserland, 2015. Oil on panel, 950 x 1470mm


Kakariki, 2015. Oil on linen, 990 x 800mm


Colin II, 2005. Oil on panel, 230 x 370mm


Birds With Green Heart, 2015. Oil on panel, 475 x 340mm


M-104, 2015. Oil on panel, 475 x 340mm


Pounamu Tie, 2009/15. Oil on panel, 670 x 510mm