Van Gogh and Surrealist Exhibitions in NZ This Year | NZ Fine Prints

Van Gogh and Surrealist Exhibitions Landing in NZ This Year

Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait on wall

Two exciting exhibitions are on in Aotearoa in 2021: the enormously successful “Van Gogh Alive” experience and a visiting collection of surrealist works in Te Papa. Both exhibitions shine a light on some of the most enduring art of our history, and both aim to showcase the work in new and provocative ways. In this blog, we’re exploring the subject matter of these shows and delving deeper into the details of the exhibitions, to give you an idea of what to expect.


The Legacy of Vincent Van Gogh

While very well-known today, Vincent Van Gogh spent his entire career working in obscurity. Over ten years, he created over two thousand artworks, including roughly 860 oil paintings, many of which he completed in the last two years of his life. It was in this later period that he developed the style he is famous for today; much of his highly expressive brushwork isn’t present in a large majority of his early work. The Dutch post-impressionist painter only became a major influence on western art after his death at 37, in 1890. This has made him the archetype of the “tortured artist” and given his story a poetic, tragic quality that plays into his enduring popularity. Despite the common perception of his creativity and mental illness being two sides of the same coin, it’s largely accepted now that he only painted during those times in his life in which he was not depressed or in poverty. Regardless, his work lives on, and prints of Vincent Van Gogh paintings remain some of the most popular items we have ever stocked here at NZ Fine Prints.


Van Gogh Alive

The “Van Gogh Alive” experience first came to New Zealand last year, appearing on Wellington’s waterfront as ‘Digital Nights’. The new show is a large-scale, indoor installation, designed to take attendees on a journey through the various stages of Van Gogh’s life, and transport them to the places he lived and worked over his career, such as Arles, Saint Rémy, and Auvers-sur-Oise. The experience is a multi-media adventure, including a musical score and projected moving images, offering visitors the chance to go beyond the surface of each of Van Gogh’s works and step inside them instead. The installation has been confirmed to exceed the government’s current COVID-19 health guidelines. The show has already concluded in Wellington, but tickets are still available to book for the current run in Christchurch, which concludes on March 28, and the upcoming opening in Auckland, which will run from April 10 through to May 6.


From Van Gogh to Surrealism

In many ways, Van Gogh paved the way in the late 19th century for the surrealist movement in the early 20th century, which has its roots in numerous earlier traditions, post-impressionism included. The first surrealist manifestos were published only 30 or so years after Van Gogh’s death. Like Van Gogh, surrealist paintings have proven to be enduring, although it’s harder to say why. The abstract nature of the work may give it a timeless quality; many surrealist pieces look like they could have been painted yesterday. It’s also possible that art movements tend to remain popular when they are attached to an idea or a way of life. Early adherents of surrealism certainly talked about it being more than just an art movement; they wanted to create a new way of life, and challenge existing conceptions about how people ought to think and act. As humans, we tend to enjoy the concept of trailblazers, especially in art.


Te Papa’s Upcoming Surrealism Exhibition

Due to open last June but postponed due to COVID-19, this upcoming exhibition will showcase 180 surrealist works, including well-known paintings by Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, and more. Organised by Te Papa curator Lizzie Bisley, the exhibition is possible thanks to the collection’s usual home—the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen—being closed for renovations. It is the first time the collection will be on display in Australasia and the first opportunity many Kiwis will have ever had to see some of the world’s most famous surrealist pieces first-hand. Like the “Van Gogh Alive” experience, this exhibition will feature digital projections and interactive elements. Visitors will even be invited to record their own dreams, so they can take part in the creation of surrealist art too! Te Papa is planning to run a schedule of public events in tandem with the exhibition, to further enhance the showing.


Bring a piece of art history home

Here at New Zealand Fine Prints, we have a wide range of pieces from many famous art movements. Our collection includes the largest range of prints of surrealism paintings in New Zealand, from artists such as Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher and Rene Magritte. If you want a piece of art history to call your own, browse our collection today, and find one that speaks to you!

Beautiful Black and White Art Prints for Your Home | NZ Fine Prints

Beautiful Black and White Art Prints for Your Home 

As the Mist Clears by Robyn Schroeder, black and white art print
Black & white print by NZ artist Robyn Schroder "As the Mist Clears"

Monochrome art prints have long been a staple when it comes to decorating, as black and white—when used appropriately—can fit into almost any colour scheme. Many different styles of interior design make use of monochrome tones, including minimalist, contemporary, art deco, and Scandinavian design. Even very vibrant colour palettes can benefit from a bit of black and white, as black helps bring a space down to earth and gives other colours a grounding point, while white provides a dramatic contrast. Including both is a great way to focus the look of almost any space and bring a fresh sophistication to it. Here in New Zealand, black and white (or silver) are two of our national colours, along with the red ochre seen on the Tino Rangatiratanga flag. When adding a bit of black and white to a space here in Aotearoa, it carries a little bit of extra meaning, and can really be a chance to create a visual context that us Kiwis live within. Below, we showcase our favourite monochrome art prints, with particular attention to the those that reference our home right here at the bottom of the world.

Rise Up – Barry Ross Smith

Haka bulls

First, we have this print by Barry Ross Smith. It’s no surprise that a lot of Kiwiana artworks reference our national pastime—rugby. For many, the All Blacks are the first thing that comes to mind when you mention ‘black’ and ‘New Zealand’ in the same sentence. Nearly all our national sports teams use either black or silver in some way, and this translates easily into the monochrome pieces created by Kiwi artists. Barry describes this painting as evoking the passion we feel for our national game, while tying it to our agricultural heritage.


Mince – Dick Frizzell

Mincer with knife

Part of a series of domestic graphics, ‘Mince’ is an understated print, perfect for the kitchen. It embodies the labour of household management, but chooses to do so in a sharp, uncompromising way, referencing the Kiwi approach to practical living. This screenprint is available on Artistico Fabriano cotton rag paper.

As the Mist Clears – Robyn Schroeder

Monochrome NZ landscape with lake & trees

This print of Robyn Schroeder’s original painting showcases another element of Aotearoa that we hold dear—the natural landscape. Presented in stark black and white, this piece depicts mist evaporating off a South Island lake in the morning. Connection to the land has always been important for those living in New Zealand, giving this piece an unspoken weight and beauty. This print is ideal for pulling together larger spaces, like the dining or living room.



Game of Two Halves – Weston Frizzell

Black & White Rugby Ball with Koru lacing

Another Frizzell family piece, this print is a cool piece of modern NZ printmaking which also celebrates our national game of rugby. It is a sophisticated representation of the game, referencing the popular phrase “game of two halves”, which is used to state that any situation could end any number of ways, regardless of how it seems to be going now. It also references the koru shape, the illusionist works of MC Escher, and the dualist concept of Yin and Yang.

Scared – Colin McCahon

I am Scared, I stand up in Colin McCahon's handwriting
Finally, we have this NZ masterwork. More abstract than the others presented so far, ‘Scared’ can be seen as a highly personal work, and an allegory of McCahon’s life, but its cry is also a universal one—a call of protest and a demand to take action. Colin McCahon started his ‘Scared’ series in the mid-70s when he was around 60 years of age. His work was often directly related to emotion, and he talked at length about his fears and doubts when discussing his art. The artwork has a harder edge than more commercial Kiwiana style prints, making it better suited to spaces that want to be more attention grabbing, or challenging. Similar prints by this artist can be found in our Colin McCahon art collection.


Learn more about decorating with Fine Prints!

For more advice on decorating from the NZ experts, follow our blog for articles like this. If you’re interested in purchasing high-quality prints in black and white, you can also take a look at our new black and white prints collection!

The Best New Zealand Landscapes for Art Prints | NZ Fine Prints

The Best New Zealand Landscapes for Art Prints

Clouds hanging over milford sound with two mountains and water between them

When exploring the world of framed wall art in New Zealand, you can quickly discover that there’s a wealth of options. Landscapes are a popular pick, especially because there’s no shortage of incredible scenery in Aotearoa, and thus no shortage of art featuring stunning natural features and breathtakingly vistas, viewed through the lens of the artist.  In this blog, we look at some of the best New Zealand landscapes, and discuss why they lend themselves so well to art.


Aotea / Great Barrier Island

Aotea, known to most as Great Barrier Island, is part of Auckland’s well-known Hauraki Gulf. The island lies around 100 kilometres from the central Auckland harbour. It’s the sixth-biggest island in the country, and Mount Hobson—the island’s peak—reaches over 600 meters above the sea. Aotea is the ancestral home of Ngāti Rehua, and the island has two marae, one affiliated with Ngāti Rehua, and the other with another local iwi; Ngātiwai. 

Print of Great Barrier Island by Justin Summerton
Print of Great Barrier Island by Justin Summerton
During the colonisation of New Zealand, Aotea was settled by Europeans for mining, Kauri logging, and was later the location of New Zealand’s last whaling station. As time went on, more on more of the island fell under the protection of the Department of Conservation, and these days, over half of the island is a nature reserve. Just under 1000 people live on the island, and those who visit tend to feel like it is like stepping backward through time.  

Aotea’s position just off the coast of Auckland is a big part of what makes it so great for art. It’s pronounced shape in the heart of the harbour draws the eye, and it hasn’t been settled in the same way that other islands—like Waiheke—have. Even though it’s just next door to New Zealand’s biggest city, the island remains largely how it always has.


Piopiotahi / Milford Sound

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound Canvas Print by Dale Gallagher
Milford Sound, or Piopiotahi in Māori, almost needs no introduction. The South Island fjord is world-famous, having been named the world’s number one travel destination in the TripAdvisor 2008 Traveler’s Choice Awards. Piopiotahi is potentially New Zealand’s most famous attraction, and in the age of the Travel Instagram, the magical location has charmed thousands. Rudyard Kipling even once called it the eighth Wonder of the World!  It’s no wonder Milford Sound makes such a popular subject for landscape art—it’s hard to think of any part of New Zealand that looks more visually arresting. View our Milford Sound prints for more!


Aoraki / Mount Cook

Mt Cook/Aoraki and the Tasman River
Mt Cook & The Tasman River by Peter Beadle
The tallest mountain in New Zealand, the mighty Aoraki reaches 3,724 metres above sea level, towering over the Southern Alps; the mountain range that forms the spine of the South Island. Mount Cook has long attracted avid mountain climbers, with several summits, and views of nearby glaciers.  Ngāi Tahu, one of the main iwi in the south of New Zealand, have a strong connection to Aoraki. They hold the mountain as a sacred ancestor—Aoraki forms a physical link between the natural world, and the supernatural. It’s easy to see why the locals hold the mountain in such high regard—it truly is awe-inspiring. Mountains—particularly volcanoes—are almost always held in high regard by indigenous peoples, and perhaps this sense of awe is also why so many artists are drawn to it, in an attempt to capture the immense sense of scope the mountain has. View our Mount Cook prints to find the perfect landscape piece for your space.


Want a piece of New Zealand’s landscape in your home?

Here at NZ Fine Prints, we sell a huge range of NZ landscape prints, from a number of celebrated artists. If you’re looking to decorate your home with a piece of New Zealand’s natural majesty, you can’t do much better than a framed print. See the range for yourself in our shop today!