• Michael McHugh

Michael McHugh’s paintings reflect an instantly familiar vision of Pasific forms and nature’s exuberance - as well as a highly personal perception of subject matter. His playfulness is complemented by an abstract logic, which breaks forms down into layered compositions of geometry, pattern, texture and colour.

McHugh maintains an active drawing practice in the planning stages which aids the compositions and techniques utilised in his large-scale paintings. His distinctive botanical language, juxtaposes hard graphic forms, against fluid painterly gesture, both of which hang together in what has been described as a ‘riot of colour’. His process involves collage-based colour studies, in which he works with drawings, texture and pattern – breaking images apart and reforming them. McHugh pushes at the boundary between the familiar and the un-familiar, confounding expectations of scale and perspective, while merging memories and experience of the world he encounters.

The artist studies his biological subjects both in the wild and via research collections in libraries and museums, returning to the studio with photographic and drawn work - as well as a head full of ideas and connections. The resulting paintings use these thoughts and images to create highly personal organic universes, full of vivid colour and form. Often the final images are shaped as much by the artist's personal history and memories of his first views of certain plants as they are by studious botanical drawings. 

This show has been some years in the making, and in the spirit of some of the world’s best known, botanists, scientists, artists and researchers, McHugh curates and assembles a range of plantopia from the Pacific Islands, an area he has been traveling too since a child. Since the easement of recent travel restrictions, Michael McHugh has made a concerted efforts to escape to the Pacific Islands, in search of a new plant order; loosing himself among a range of islands and archipelagos.  

Spending time observing the filtered sunlight and how this interacts with the brilliance of local plant forms - It was this extraordinarily combination of colour, form, detail and light, that first struck the artist as he set about capturing this exotic matter with detailed botanical drawings. Sat outside his Bure, McHugh spent most days painting, trying to capture that intense light and the saturated colour. The forms captured in his initial drawings are re-arranged and tweaked, as they are worked into final paintings - in the process - creating a personal take on the botanical forms and DNA.   McHugh's new biome paintings create highly personal organic worlds - full of vivid colour and form – but authentic to time and place and reflection of the artist's environmental passion. He asks us all to join in this celebration and protection of the natural world in all its splendour.

Gallery Hours

  • Tues-Fri: 10am-6pm
  • Sat: 10am-4pm


  • 455 Mount Eden Road
  • Mount Eden
  • Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland