A connoisseur of bounteous cultivated gardens, artist Karl Maughan, paints a botanical world that we the viewer, simply lose ourselves in. With rounded bushes, winding paths and vivid iridescence colour and aspect, these spaces are gleaming and luscious. They evoke a ‘garden’ that we imagine we could cultivate, tame or simply be inspired by. The viewer is reminded of our longing for such a place, an almost mystical, wondrous and resplendent arena, where, (as Maughan himself says), humans undergo “a conquest over nature and protection from the forest and the wild.”
With the intensity of the New Zealand light, alongside often rounded forms of both public and domestic gardens, Maughan juxtaposes and highlights the jewel -like scenery that he portrays. In his work, one can see influences of Post Impressionism, (think Monet’s Waterlilies series), and possibly Photo realism, (although Maughan’s style is painterly and loose). The shapes of the multifarious flowers and plants within his paintings, shine with brilliant hue and luminescence. Maughan paints with oil paint using a technique called, “alla prima” or “wet on wet”. Colour mixing takes place on the canvas rather than the palette. One colour cuts into rather than blends into another, creating a wonderful sense of sparkle and depth. He also paints from photograph rather than ‘plein air’ and while there is some aspect of realism of the scene he portrays, Maughan can add or subtract to this landscape and add texture and intensify the colour.