Colin McCahon (1919-87), New Zealand, Otago Peninsula, 1946, oil paint on hardboard. Purchased 1992 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Boards funds;
reproduced courtesy of Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust.
The underlying shape
Otago Peninsula was familiar territory for Colin McCahon, who grew up in Dunedin and later attended art school there.
In describing his work, McCahon said, ‘I saw something logical, orderly and beautiful belonging to the land … My work has largely been to communicate this vision and invent a way to see it.’ Here he has painted the peninsula stripped of details, its bare forms exposed.
Otago Peninsula was commissioned by Mario and Hilda Fleischl, early supporters of McCahon. It was his first commission - proof that although some New Zealanders found his art difficult, others were ready to take up its challenge.