Richard McWhannell

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1952


  • 1998-1999
  • Oil on linen
  • Purchased, 2003
  • 2132 x 1525mm
  • 2003/111

This intense self-portrait by Richard McWhannell could be described as a psychological close up. It has a sense of both transparency and concealment. McWhannell has said that he is "endlessly fascinated by my own physiognomy, not so much asking Who am I? but What am I?" This work is part of a series of self-portraits McWhannell began in the mid-1990s. As well as being autobiographical, McWhannell’s self-portraits explore the techniques and formal concepts of painting, such as line, tone, colour and composition. The effect of stencilled lace and washes of soft colour gives the work a thoughtful, intimate aura, yet the close perspective can be disarming. McWhannell studied Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury. An important influence on his work has been the philosophy and techniques of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). McWhannell has had a number of Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council grants, enabling him to travel to Europe to see the originals of his favourite masters, Goya (1746-1828), Caravaggio (1573-1610) and Velasquez (1599-1660).

Exhibition History