Paul Hartigan

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About Paul Hartigan

Paul Hartigan is an Auckland-based artist whose successful career spans five decades. A painter, photographer and sculptor, he is best known for his large-scale public neon installations in Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington and Christchurch. Hartigan's destinctive artistic vision places him as a well-known entity within contemporary New Zealand art.

His acclaimed monochrome neon Colony (2004), transformed the University of Auckland's Engineering Building on Symonds St, and won the Metro Award for Best Public Sculpture in 2006. In Chistchurch, Nebula Orion (2001) commissioned by Orion NZ Ltd, is a giant Hartigan neon work that survived the earthquake of 2011 and continues to operate today.

He is represented in the country's major art institutions including Auckland Art Gallery, the Chartwell Collection, Te Papa Tongarewa, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, the Sarjeant Gallery, The National Library of New Zealand and GOMA Queensland, Australia.

Most recently he was acknowledged with a 40 year retrospective at the Gus Fisher Gallery and is the subject of Don Abbott's monograph Vivid: The Paul Hartigan Story, published in 2015 and named best non-fiction book (Australia/New Zealand) in the 2016 Independent Publisher Awards.

The work...

Paul Hartigan's earliest paintings and prints reflect his interest in American Pop Art and his fascination with popular culture. Neon signs, tattoo flash, movie posters, advertising and 1950s moderne design were favourite resources. Hartigan was particularly drawn to 1950s pulp comic books like The Phantom and Donald Duck for their mix of black line and bold colour.

Hartigan's Phantom has become the iconic image of New Zealand Pop art of the 1970s" John Daly-Peoples, NBR, The Cartoon Show, Auckland Art Gallery, 2001-2002

In 1980 Hartigan started working in neon, allowing him to draw simultaneously in light and colour. He developed a quirky personal image vocabulary, a library of jazzy hieroglyphs and modern-primitive pictograms rendered as luminous light-drawings - these neon images became his recognised trademark. His large-scale neon installation Colony, (2004) can be seen on permanent display at the University of Auckland.

During the 1990s, Hartigan created colourful psychedelic computer-generated abstracts, ink-jet printed on vinyl in the manner of billboards. More recently, using new Epson Ultrachrome technology he has returned to printmaking making large format works on paper and H-type canvas paintings. Paul Hartigan has been committed to extending the boundaries of art, creating 'new images' initially inspired by the Pop movement in the US.