Richard McWhannell was born in Akaroa in 1952, and currently lives and works in Auckland. He studied at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury, and has exhibited regularly since 1974. His work is held in public and private collections throughout the country.

Richard McWhannell is a painter of figurative, portrait and landscape paintings. While he often does not attribute meaning to his paintings, he has long been concerned with the portrayal of psychological space. In his words, "I provide images for reflection and meditation. Meaning depends on interpretation... for me to predicate meaning could be to lessen the viewer's experience."

The psychology of separation, isolation and introspection may be there, but what is important is the paint, the hand that makes it. Visible brushstrokes slide softly over the canvas in an earthly palette, intoning an enigmatic quality to the subject whether portrait or landscape.


truth or consequences

1 - 31 May 2019

A 2018 trip to New Mexico and a visit to a town called Truth or Consequences were a catalyst for Truth or Consequences. The name conjures images of the old west - of Kit Carson and Wyatt Earp, of Geronimo, of fearsome Apache, Comanche and Arapaho, of cougars, rattle snakes and coyotes. Truth, consequences, strange goings on. Trees bending over, cows lying down. Like a Gothic perspective on Arcadia ... or pastoralism, with a side car of unease.

take me to the river

8 - 29 April 2017

“It needs be said; there’s a lot that is comic here and plenty of graffiti. I wish not to disturb or depress utterly. [As Brett Whiteley says,] painting is a ‘difficult pleasure’. I love it. I have fun in the moment, and the thoughts and musings along the way are manifold and far from endlessly bleak. Every day is a day in paradise but you have to be concerned as you walk the banks, from source to sea.”
- Richard McWhannell, March 2017


22 November - 10 December 2016

McWhannell admits there is a lot happening in these paintings. His notional brief for the body of work involves his family as original settlers on Banks Peninsula and the pastoral landscapes of childhood memory. Starting points for what is a landscape seen through the filters of our time, cut out, rearranged, inhabited by history, and re-imagined for today.

selected works

9 - 27 February 2016

Selected Works represents a considered response to all aspects of Richard McWhannell's long career and are chosen from his personal collection and in many cases are being shown for the first time. See NZ Herald review. Preview catalogue.


14 April - 9 May 2015

Sensual, mysterious and rich in art history, this large and complex series of paintings delve deep into the artist's personal repertoire whilst making a nod to Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. Click for NZ Herald review. Click for Art NZ review.

crossing the lake

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 Gillies - for inspiration.


16 April - 4 May 2013

A group show featuring landscapes by Ross Lewis, Richard McWhannell, John Madden, Peter James Smith and Evan Woodruffe.


17 April - 5 May 2012

McWhannell revisits the self-portrait, ruthlessly zooming in on his own, stark and often-distorted face. Gone is the polite distance established between sitter and painter, subject and viewer. In these works there is nowhere to hide.


Looking Through Yellow and Black (2013-2017) oil on canvas 410 x 340mm


The Road To Nowhere (2018) oil on board 535 x 835mm


In The Night Garden (2018-19) oil on canvas 400x 350mm


It's The End Of The World As We Know It (2015) oil on canvas 400 x 500mm


A Fall Of Ventriloquists (2015) oil on canvas on board 1200 x 1600mm


Big Head (1994) oil on canvas on board 800 x 690mm


Second To Last Nadege (2014) oil on linen 457 x 381mm


A Picture For Oum Kalthoum (2018-19) oil on board 895 x 1220mm


The Red Admiral (2014-15) oil on canvas 300 x 400mm


Visiting Geronimo (2013) oil on canvas on board 601 x 730mm


Pararaha-Baldy (2013) oil on linen 480 x 810mm


Fascinator (2017) oil on linen 480 x 420mm