Located in the central city, Max and Sheila Brown’s Xgaleri is a dedicated artists’ studio and gallery, the abstracted figurative expressionist paintings of native birds by Sheila Brown, a foil for Max Brown’s paintings and his attention to materials and the animated painterly gestural images.
Max has recently completed two large-scale paintings for the Guthrey Centre in Cashel Street, recently installed in the public space between both the Centre and the gallery, the artist detailing the thematic and unanticipated background to his two new tree paintings and their reason for being.
‘Once I left art school I moved to Auckland looking for a job. I applied for a photo-shop position and the person who interviewed me told me I was way too artistic for the position, but she introduced me to her husband from Thailand.’
I met him and he talked to me about life and after a few hours he said to me “draw me a tree.” I had a scrap paper and I drew a tree. Then he said “I want you to take some deep breaths and then I want you to draw me another tree.” I drew another one and he instantly talked to me about the differences. “This one is more grounded, and this one is floating and the lines are smoother. I want you to draw me a tree every day for 100 days as soon as you wake up. If you miss a day you start again.”
‘I had nothing to lose and worked my way through 100 days. The trees were all very different and I knew that something was going to happen at the end, and after the 100th day I decided to move back to Christchurch and re-evaluate what I was doing. This was about 2018. I took all those tree drawings and threw them in the bid and within two days was over them.’
‘Then I was sitting in a park watching the sun set over the hills. I could see the silhouettes of the trees and I realised that everyone can connect to them. They are part of nature and we establish a relationship with them. We grow trees in our garden and they provide us with fruit. I thought maybe I could bring that piece of nature inside someone’s home. I chose my favourite tree for a painting and the one that worked best was the gum tree - best form and a strong tree.’
‘ I realised that the trees were really a symbol of how you approached your day and how you take yourself. Do you breathe before making a decision? For my work a lot of it is this emotional energy. These paintings are me challenging myself or emotionally releasing myself and the tree brings it all together. I started doing a series. They are all acrylic paintings and they have a gold foil tree printed over the top of them. I have set up these two huge trees outside Galerie to bring some light to the centre, bringing the sunlight onto them.’
Max Brown and and Sheila Brown
126 Cashel Street
- Max Brown, Tree Painting,2022, gold foil and acrylic on canvas