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Christchurch City Council Media Release August 9, 1999

Major retrospective of a unique Canterbury artist

Heaven and Blood

Painting and Drawing by Alan Pearson 1959 – 1999

24 August – 31 October 1999


‘…he is a singularly individualistic man with a formidable artistic talent that has set him apart as one of the finest painters in New Zealand art history.’ (Adrienne Rewi)

Alan Pearson is New Zealand’s foremost senior expressionist painter and portraitist. Heaven and Blood is the first major retrospective of Pearson’s work, and brings together a selection of powerful figurative paintings and drawings produced over the past four decades.

Pearson responds to his subject matter through emotional impressions rather than by representing their physical reality. As a painter he reveals the individual essence of things otherwise masked by surface appearances, suggesting everything through gesture and vibrant colour.

Often Pearson’s paintings appear abstract, but there is always an essential figurative element in his work with portraiture making up a substantial body of his painting practise. As Pearson explains, "I have always been interested in portraits - in the spirit, the creation of self and the reasons for time and space…I’ve always liked to watch people and that has gradually broken into the full figure and then the figure in relation to the land and the universe.’ His figurative paintings, therefore, have more and more become individual prophetic statements of concern for man in the world - man as the centre of the twentieth century universe, and author of his own destiny.

Originally from Britain, but trained as an artist in New Zealand, Pearson has travelled widely and this experience has been essential to the renewal and revitalisation of his imagery, and has advanced his painting to a unique level in contemporary New Zealand art. He has emerged as an artist of singular expressionistic vision, shunning the directions that have often entrapped others of his generation.

Heaven and Blood also offers that distinctive experience of inviting the visitor to track the development of an artist’s work, and in the process revealing their personal journey through time. Pearson’s superb draughtsmanship and mastery of the art of painting will ensure that those with a passion for paint and colour will be inspired and enthralled by this exhibition.

A short video accompanies the exhibition, along with a well-illustrated publication, containing essays by Cassandra Fusco, Tim Garrity, Alison Pearson, curator Neil Roberts and an interview with the artist.

The Robert McDougall Art Gallery, located in the Botanic Gardens, is the country’s most visited public art gallery featuring regularly changing exhibitions of international and New Zealand historical and contemporary art. The McDougall Contemporary Art Annex , located in the Arts Centre, features changing displays of contemporary art. Both the Gallery and Annex are open daily (except Good Friday and Christmas Day) 10am – 4.30pm (summer) and 10am – 5.30pm (winter).





Alan Pearson has regularly exhibited in both group and solo exhibitions in New Zealand and overseas since 1962. He is represented in many major public collections including: Auckland Art Gallery; Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt; Manawatu Art Gallery, Palmerston North; Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch; Aigantighe Gallery, Timaru; Forrester Gallery, Oamaru; Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Hocken Library, University of Otago and the Department of Internal Affairs.


Pearson is also represented in numerous private and corporate collections in Australia, England, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, USA and New Zealand. The National Portrait Gallery, London holds a catalogue of his works.

P U B L I C  P R O G R A M M E S

Floortalk Alan Pearson will speak on the exhibition.
Robert McDougall Art Gallery.
11.00am Sunday, 29 August
Speaker of the Month

Alison Pearson will speak on the work of Alan Pearson. Hurst Seager Room, Christchurch Arts Centre.
10.30am Wednesday, 15 September

Friends $2.00.
Public $5.00.
After Dark: Talk About Art! Wine and nibbles and a talk about the exhibition.
Robert McDougall Art Gallery. $5.00.
6.00pm Thursday, 30 September


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