Artist Chris Heaphy, born 1965, is of Ngāi Tahu and Pakeha descent. Heaphy currently lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand, where he continues to explore his painting practice. His works navigate cultural issues, with a greater focus on the relationship between Māori and Pakeha.
Heaphy very much remains concerned about the social and cultural landscape of Aotearoa. Although his context remains a constant, his style has certainly changed over time. We have seen Heaphy transition and hop between an eerily cubist style with minimal iconography to his works from the early 2000’s that use complex compositions and a vibrant colour palette. Come forward to his recent works where they feel more fluid and neutral; he has almost found a happy medium. Heaphy uses and array of motifs drawn from Māori and European iconography, demonstrating his interest in cross-cultural exchanges as well as referring to his personal history.
Heaphy attended Canterbury University's School of Fine Art, graduating in 1991 with a BFA in painting. In 1998 he graduated from the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia with an MFA in painting. In addition to his work as a visual artist, Heaphy is also a noted musician, collaborating with fellow guitarist Roy Montgomery on the album 'True'.
Heaphy has been successful in securing a number of grants and fellowships including Te Waka Toi Grants in 1993 and 1994, the Olivia Spencer Bower Fellowship in 1995, two Creative New Zealand Grants in 1999, and a Research Grant from WINTEC which enabled him to undertake a residency at Melbourne’s RMIT University. In 2000-2001 Heaphy undertook a residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, as well as the Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Residency in Champagne in 2001. Heaphy has exhibited extensively throughout Australasia and Europe and his work is included in major public and private collections in both New Zealand and overseas.