+64 9 303 1090 | artis@artisgallery.co.nz

Born in Invercargill in 1949, Nigel Brown grew up in Tauranga. He was fortunate to have Fred Graham as an art teacher at Tauranga Boys’ College, a figure who greatly influenced the young Nigel Brown.

Brown enrolled at Elam School of Art in 1968 where he was taught by Pat Hanly, Colin McCahon, Garth Tapper, Greer Twiss and Robert Ellis. McCahon encouraged Brown to pursue his own personal vision and utilize distinct motifs in his work. Brown graduated in 1971 and began exhibiting the following year. He cemented his reputation as an artist in 1977 with his highly acclaimed Lemon Tree series (1977).

Brown has a systematic and workmanlike approach to painting. He works from an initial concept, which is the result of reading and extensive research. Sketches, photographs and other sources are used as a visual back up to develop specifics, leading to works on paper and trial paintings. The artist works from a gesso ground on which he applies a base coat of yellow ochre. The main ideas and words of each work are then sketched in by brush, followed by the initial lines and tones, and the first of five or more layers of paint.

Brown directly and selectively employs history, literature and politics as devices in his artworks. He also uses words in his paintings, a technique that was heavily influenced by the English poet and painter William Blake. At Elam, Colin McCahon suggested that Brown contain his text in a border or boundary, Brown embraced this suggestion and to this day continues to use it.

Brown has received numerous awards throughout his career including; the QEII Arts Council Grant (1981), Inaugural Artists to Antarctica Award (1998) and in 2004 Brown was awarded the ONZM for services to painting and printmaking.

In 2005 Nigel Brown took up an artist residency at the New Zealand Embassy in Moscow, hosted by New Zealand’s Russian ambassador Stuart Prior. In 2009, The Brown Years, an exhibition at the Tauranga Art Gallery, celebrated the formative years of the artist’s career. In 2011 Brown was chosen to participate in The Depot’s Artspace Cultural Icons project. The project celebrated individuals who had contributed significantly to New Zealand’s creative landscape.

In addition to his painting Brown has undertaken two significant stained glass window designs – St Mary’s Catholic Church, Auckland (1991) and the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland (1998). He is also a printmaker, completing  ‘Seven Last Words’ (2009) a suite of lithographs commissioned by Chamber Music NZ in association with the String Quartet in honour of the 200th anniversary of Australian composer Joseph Haydn’s death. Brown has exhibited extensively in public and private galleries throughout New Zealand and had several touring exhibitions.


2019 – Dog, ARTIS Gallery, Auckland
2015 – Albatross Road, ARTIS Gallery, Auckland


1979 – Nigel Brown and the Iconography of Conscience by Denys Trussell Landfall No. 128
1978 – Text and My Paintings by Nigel Brown Landfall No. 137
1981 – William Millet discusses Nigel Brown, Art New Zealand No. 3
1976 – Exhibitions by Denys Trussell, Art New Zealand No. 12
1979 – Exhibitions by John Tarlton, Art New Zealand No. 28, Telling Stories by Neil Rowe
Contemporary NZ Painters Vol. 1, 1985 – Jim and Mary Barr; Alister Taylor, Critic Vol. 61
1983 – Gains & Losses by Warwick Brown, Art New Zealand No. 67
1985 – Living in the Bomb Age by Sonja Van Kerkhoff
New Zealand Painting: A Modern Perspective by Elva Bett, published by Reed Methuen
1986 – Call Me Poet/Hunter: The Life and Work of R.F. Brown, illustrated and compiled by Nigel Brown, published by Moana Press
1987 – Images of War, catalogue by Tony Martin, published by Dunmore Press
1990 – Nigel Brown by Gregory O’Brien, published by Random Century
1991 – Living Here Aotearoa, catalogue of survey exhibition with essays by Trussell and Martin, Manawatu Art Gallery
1992 – Common Purpose by Nigel Brown, published by Southland Museum & Art Gallery
1993 – Living in Aotearoa by Riemke Ensing, Art New Zealand No. 90
1995 – Lands & Deeds by Gregory O’Brien, published by Godwit Publishing Ltd
1996 – Contemporary Painting In New Zealand by Michael Dunn. Published by Craftsman House in association with G & B Arts International 
Lands & Deeds by Gregory O’Brien, published by Godwit Publishing Ltd
1999 – All things Bright and Beautiful by Hugh Maguire Art New Zealand No. 104,
2002 – This Way, That Way – Nigel Brown’s Brush With History by Richard Wolfe, Art New Zealand No. 124
Contemporary NZ Art 3 by Elizabeth Caughey and John Gow, published by David Bateman
2004 – Dance of the Origin, by Denys Trussell with drawings by Nigel Brown
This Thing In The Mirror, by Claire Finlayson. published by Craig Potton Publishing
Truth Beyond Appearances, edited by Helen Pearson, published by Interactive Education Ltd.
2007 – Will To Meaning – A Painter’s Language In The Fabric of History by Denys Trussell, NZ Listener
2008 – The Expressive Forest by Denys Trussell, published by Brick Row Publishing
New Zealand Portraits, by Richard Wolfe, published by Penguin
The Painted Garden in New Zealand Art, by Christopher Johnstone, published by Random House NZ
2009 – North South, Poetry by Glenn Colquhoun, handwritten and illustrated by Nigel Brown, published by Steele Roberts
2010 – Artists @ Work, by Richard Wolfe and Stephen Robinson, published by Penguin


1963-67 Tauranga Boys’ College
1968-71 Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland (BFA)


2005 – Awarded a three week residency in Russia hosted by Stuart Prior, New Zealand’s ambassador in Moscow and partially funded by private contributors in New Zealand
2004 – ONZM for services to Painting and Print Making
1995 – Finalist Visa Gold Awards
1993 – Artist in Residence, Wanganui Regional Polytechnic
1986 – Awarded QEII Arts Council Grant
1981 – QEII Arts Council Grant for travel to USA, UK and Europe
1978 – Awarded QEII Arts Council Grant


2009 – The Haydn Lithos, printed by Papergraphica, Christchurch. Commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand in association with NZ String Quartet (performance) and Sara Brodie (video included in the performance)
Handwritten text and illustration of Glenn Colquhoun, North South, Steel Roberts: Wellington
1998 – Stained glass window commission, The Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland
Southern Odyssey Project Commission, Painting for Mossburn Railway Hotel, Southland.
1991 – Stained glass window commission, St Mary’s Catholic Church, Auckland


2019 – Dog, ARTIS Gallery, Auckland
2018 – Concerning Nurture, Milford Galleries, Dunedin
Concerning Nurture, Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi (Feb-May)
2017 – Bird in the Hand, Milford Galleries, Dunedin
Organic Thinking, The Diversion Gallery, Picton
2016 – Provocations, Milford Galleries, Queenstown
2015 – Belong Belong, Milford Galleries Dunedin
2015 – Albatross Road, ARTIS Gallery, Auckland
Belong Belong, Milford Galleries Queenstown
2014 – Away and Towards, Milford Galleries, Queenstown
2013 – Doors Flung Back, The Diversion Gallery, Picton
Invented Lives, Milford Galleries Queenstown
2012 – Joe Taihape, Whitespace, Auckland
Short Lives of Birds, Whakatane Art Museum, Whakatane
Dusky Doubtful, Milford Galleries Queenstown
Black Paper Works, Milford Galleries Dunedin
Peace Map, The Depot, Auckland
2011 – Travel to Travel, Southland Museum, Invercargill, Lopdell House, Auckland
Mitre, Milford Galleries, Dunedin
Short Lives of Birds, Whitespace, Wellington
2010 – Short Lives of Birds, Whitespace, Auckland
Nigel Brown: Selected Works, Milford Galleries, Queenstown
Written Word, Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery, Gisborne
2009 – All Our Days, Milford Galleries, Dunedin
Seven Last Words: The Haydn Lithos (Touring Papergraphica Exhibition) – Launching at Futuna Chapel, Karori, Wellington
The Brown Years, Tauranga Public Art Gallery, Tauranga
2008 – Conversations, Milford Galleries, Queenstown
Lamp, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
Antarctic Visions, Williams Gallery, Petone
2007 – Gold Miner, Milford Galleries Dunedin
Will To Meaning, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
2006 – Worded Image, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
Southern Odyssey Project Commission: Painting for Mossburn Railway Hotel, Southland
Iconic Way, Milford Galleries Queenstown
Personage, Eastern Southland Gallery, Gore
2005 – Yeah, Human, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
Allegories, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington
Russian Works, New Zealand Embassy, Moscow, Russia
2004 – I Am IV, Centre of Contemporary Art, Christchurch
Human Condition, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington
Dance of the Origin, Milford Galleries Dunedin
2003 – Points Along The Way, Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru
I Am III, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
Deco Echo, Statements Gallery, Napier
2002 – Points Along the Way, (touring exhibition), Ashburton Art Gallery, Forester Gallery, Oamaru
I Am II, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington
This Human Place, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
2001 – Points Along the Way (touring exhibition), Pataka Porirua Museum of Arts and Culture, Fisher Gallery, Auckland, Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui
I Am, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
2000 – Points Along The Way, (touring exhibition), Milford Galleries, Dunedin
Road Works, Statements Gallery, Napier
1999 – Encounter and Discovery: Pacifica, Rotorua Museum of Art and History
The Unframed Continent film by Natural History NZ, directed by Clive Copeman
1998 – Inaugural member Artists to Antarctica
Antarctica, (evolving exhibition) Government House, Wellington and Auckland, Southland Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury Museum
Fernery, Brian Queenan Gallery, Wellington
Black Fern Rising, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
1996 – Pacifica V, Southland Museum and Art Gallery, Invercargill
Speak Your Mind, The Drawings Gallery, Auckland
Pacifica VI, Warwick Henderson Gallery, Auckland
Child’s Reading, Brooker Gallery, Wellington
Natural Religion, Muka Studio, Auckland
Pacifica VII, Artscape Gallery, Palmerston North
Murals for Auckland Town Hall restoration project and Green Peace
1994 – Wanganui Works, Brooker Gallery, Wellington
Aroha Press, (woodcuts and stained glass windows) Portfolio Gallery, Auckland
Pacifica III, RKS Art, Auckland
Pacifica IV, Artscape, Palmerston North
Visiting artist, Hawkes Bay Polytechnic
1993 – Living Here Aotearoa – A Survey, (touring exhibition), Manawatu Art Gallery, Palmerston North, Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru, Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch
1992 – Tolaga Bay, RKS Art, Auckland
Pacific Wood Cuts, Salamander Gallery, Christchurch
Ten Years of Cuts, Portfolio Gallery, Auckland
Living Here in Aotearoa, (touring survey), Manawatu Art Gallery, Palmerston North
1991 – Woodcuts, Salamander Gallery, Christchurch
Nude at the Opera, Brooker Gallery, Wellington
Sure to Rise, Canterbury Gallery, Christchurch
Bungalow Window, Portfolio Gallery, Auckland
Stained glass window commission St Mary’s Catholic Church, Auckland
1990 – The Home Gardener Exhibition, Portfolio Gallery, Auckland
Van Gogh 1890-1990, Whitecliffe Galleries, Auckland
Ozone 90, RKS Art, Auckland
1989  – Brooker Gallery, Wellington
Aroha, RKS Art, Auckland
1988 – 1984 and After, Manawatu Art Gallery, Palmerston North
Black Frame, (works 1964-1987 from the artist’s collection), Lopdell House, Auckland
Hack out a Feeling, Gingko Gallery, Christchurch
The Tauranga Paintings, Baycourt, Tauranga Art Gallery, Palmerston North
Frames of Reference, RKS Art, Auckland
1987 – Brooker Gallery, Wellington
Carnegie Centre, Dunedin
1987 –  Print Series, Wellington City Art Gallery, Wellington
1986 – Selected Works of the 80’s, Te Awamutu Museum, Te Awamutu
Wood Cuts, Gingko Gallery, Christchurch
Small Icons, Whitecliffe Galleries, Auckland
Odysseus Rex, Words and Pictures, Auckland
1985 – Living in the Bomb Age, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin
Louise Beale Gallery, Wellington
North Gallery, Whangarei
Prints, Gingko Gallery, Christchurch
Name Paintings, New Vision Gallery, Auckland
R.F. Memorial Show, Real Pictures Gallery, Auckland
R.F. Brown and V. Brown Memorial Exhibition, Thames Recreation Centre, Thames
1984 – Bomb Mother, New Vision Gallery, Auckland
Centre Gallery, Hamilton
Nuclear Notes, Last and First Café, Auckland
Louise Beale Gallery, Wellington
1983 – Louise Beale Gallery, Wellington
Get My Meaning, Last and First Café, Auckland
Notes From a Life Tree, New Vision Gallery, Auckland
Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
1982 – Louise Beale Gallery, Wellington
Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
1981 – Trampers, Elva Bett Gallery, Wellington
Trampers, Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland
Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
Past and Present, Louise Beale Gallery, Wellington
1980 – Ferns, Cars and Rockets, Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland
Elva Bett Gallery, Wellington
Paper Decade, Closet Artists, Auckland
1979 – Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
Wairarapa Art Centre, Masterton
Studio Gallery, Hamilton
Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland
Survey, Elva Bett Gallery, Wellington
1978 – Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
From Suburbia, Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland
1977 – Lemon Tree series, Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland
1976 – Bedrooms, Barry Lett Galleries, Auckland
Settlement Gallery, Wellington
1975 – Tables, Settlement Gallery, Wellington
1974 – Driveways, Mollers’ Gallery, Auckland
1973 – One Tree Hill Across Manukau, Mollers’ Gallery, Auckland
1972 – Bicycle Commentaries, Mollers’ Gallery, Auckland
1963 – Tauranga Public Library, Tauranga