Karl Maughan

Lee Road

2012
oil on canvas
1010mm x 840mm

signed KM, dated 15/03/2012 and inscribed “LEE ROAD” in brushpoint verso

Provenance

Private collection, Auckland.
Commissioned by the present owner in 2012.

Essay

Karl Maughan is known in New Zealand and abroad for his paintings of gardens. Typically overflowing with vibrant flowers and foliage, the gardens in Maughan’s works look as th...

Read full text
Estimate $10,000 - $15,000
Achieved $9,673.13

Karl Maughan

Lee Road

2012

oil on canvas

signed KM, dated 15/03/2012 and inscribed “LEE ROAD” in brushpoint verso

1010mm x 840mm

Auction N˚4

Estimate $10,000 - $15,000

Achieved $9,673.13

Footnotes
  1. David E Cooper, A Philosophy of Gardens, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), 145.

Lee Road

by Frances Clark

Karl Maughan is known in New Zealand and abroad for his paintings of gardens. Typically overflowing with vibrant flowers and foliage, the gardens in Maughan’s works look as though they have been carefully cultivated into perfect bloom, kept free of any trace of decay, and yet seem on the edge of overgrowth. Much like the cultivation of an actual garden, Karl Maughan’s practice involves the deliberate consideration of the natural world and transformation of it through artifice. Through his placement of colour, manipulation of shade and light, and arrangement of plants dug out of a range of locations, imagined and real, Maughan presents the tensions and joys of a successful garden: a balance between nature and artifice, freedom and restraint, control and growth.

Throughout his career, Maughan has consistently focused on gardens and plants as subject matter for his paintings, and through this dedication to a particular visual language he has spent the better part of the last three decades developing an uncommon clarity and depth of vision. Prompted by his time in London in the 1990s, he moved from plein air painting to constructing composite, imagined gardens based largely on photographic sources. The development of his practice over this period also varies from modes that feel controlled and hyperreal, to the kind of energetic, near-impressionistic brushwork and close attention to light and shade seen in Lee Road. Lee Road’s towering bushes of heaped leaves and flowers, drenched in sun and carved out by shade, are both specific enough to feel real and sufficiently loosely presented to be less of interest for any specific botanical identity than for their striking form and colour. In the distance, unnaturally rounded treetops loom; are they controlled and trimmed into these unnatural shapes, or are they the spectre of triffidic overgrowth? Beneath these gigantic bushes and treetops, the composition is grounded by a pathway that makes the space navigable, even tamed.