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Karl Maughan's gardens in full bloom

Karl Maughan, Long View
Gow Langsford Gallery
Until November 30

In his latest exhibition, Long View, at the Gow Langsford Gallery Karl Maughan continues his preoccupation with creating lush, colourful gardens.

These almost photo realist compositions in his instantly recognisable style hover between the formulaic and the novel, depicting large bushes in tiered ranks with alternating and dramatic colours.

These carefully constructed gardens combine the romanticism of the 19th century landscape with the intense light and colour of the Impressionists. Underlying the naturalism of the works though is a sense of the abstract, with the colours jostling and merging on the canvas.

Close inspection reveals that the seemingly tangible, textured blooms are carefully applied strokes of colour in an almost abstract expressionist manner.

Maugham has developed techniques that enable him to create the look of blooms, foliage, grass and paths which are both inventive and mechanical.

His gardens have an almost theatrical quality to them and in many there is even a sense of narrative, especially those which have paths leading the viewer deeper into the picture, creating an almost three dimensional space.

Most of Maughan's works are of closely cropped views of shrubs and blooms such as Catalina Bay ($24,000) where no sky of background is visible. A few such as Riverside ($32,500) provide a tantalising sliver of sky. Riverside is hung next to Riverhead ($32,500) providing a dramatic diptych

In Marchent Ridge ($95,000), the largest work in the show there is open sky and distant hills. The bird’s eye viewpoint which is also a departure for the artist gives a more panoramic view of the garden.

This work also displays a slight failure of the artist in the depiction of a grassy central path. His ability to render the grass at one point lapses and there is an awareness of paint rather than grass.

In another large work, Bell Rd ($55,000) the artist presents another means of depiction of gardens. Here there is a more formal setting with hedging and flower beds. This work with a band of yellow flowers across the top of the work is even more theatrical than the other works, providing its own stage setting for the colourful garden.

Also included in the exhibition are two new prints of the Wellington area with Karori (red) and Karori (orange) both priced at $2100.