Feel the Sun: Michael McHugh’s Archipelago Show


Michael McHugh 'Reunion' 2023
Michael McHugh 'Reunion' 2023
Michael McHugh invites art enthusiasts on a visual journey through his latest exhibition, a culmination of years of exploration and creative endeavour.

McHugh’s paintings are a testament to his deep connection with the Pacific Islands, blending a playful interpretation of nature with abstract logic, resulting in a riotous explosion of colour and form.

McHugh’s artistic language intricately weaves together the exotic and the familiar, capturing the essence of the Pacific Islands’ vibrant plant life. His works break down botanical forms into layered compositions of geometry, pattern, texture, and colour. The interplay between hard graphic elements and fluid painterly gestures creates a captivating harmony, drawing viewers into a world described as a “riot of colour.”

The genesis of this extraordinary collection lies in McHugh’s extensive travels through the Pacific Islands, a region he has been exploring since childhood. The exhibition reflects a curated assemblage of “plantopia” inspired by the spirit of renowned botanists, scientists, and artists. McHugh’s dedication to this project is evident in his meticulous research, drawing, and photography of local flora.

A pivotal moment in the exhibition’s conception occurred during McHugh’s seminal trip to Tahiti, Samoa, and Fiji, accompanied by his son, Henry. The artist immersed himself in the islands, studying the filtered sunlight and its interaction with the brilliance of indigenous plant forms. Subsequent visits to the Cook Islands and Fiji further solidified the exhibition’s direction, emphasising the profound impact of light on colour, form, and detail.

McHugh’s artistic process involves capturing the intense Pacific light and saturated colours through detailed botanical drawings. His paintings, a fusion of rearranged and tweaked forms, convey a personal perspective on botanical DNA. The artist shares his inspiration, stating, “The saturation of the sun and heat dials up the intense hues of the greens and yellows, especially against the backdrop of vivid blues of ocean & sky.”

Michael McHugh ‘Happy Hour’ (2023) and ‘Coral Cove’ (2023)

As the light shifts throughout the day, McHugh’s paintings mirror the nuanced beauty of the Pacific landscape. Works like “Happy Hour” and “Coral Cove” capture the intensity of sunlight, while “Honeycomb” reflects the butterscotch tones of sunsets. “Reunion” presents an anthropomorphic lineup of new forms, suggesting a celebration or anticipation of another breathtaking sunset.

In McHugh’s creations, viewers are invited to witness his personal, organic worlds filled with vivid colour and form. These paintings are more than aesthetic marvels; they serve as a heartfelt homage to the Pacific Islands and a call to celebrate and protect the natural world in all its splendour. As McHugh beautifully articulates, his art is a reflection of the utopia he found in the intense partnership of light, colour, and form—a celebration of nature’s magnificence.

Michael McHugh | Archipelago

Föenander Galleries

455 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden, Auckland



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