Topic: Paul Nicolai: Surrealist Experimenter

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I am surprised to discover how many of our local artists and art lovers haven’t yet been to visit the surrealist painter Paul Nicolai at the Ngongotaha Village studio he shares with partner photographer Yvonne Westra.

Looking wrong? Archived version here.

When you do visit the surrealist painter Paul Nicolai at the Ngongotaha Village studio you’re in for a real treat as he shows you around the modern ArtBox Gallery and studio behind their residence. There you will see hundreds of paintings and be amazed as I was by this unique treasure trove of art and his extensive knowledge of European art and history. When we find something extra special in art, most of us, by inclination, just have to share it. This is a must see for anyone interested in the visual arts and a wonderful experience.

Paul Nicolai began his lifelong fascination with art and painting in his birthplace Holland. He settled in New Zealand in 1974 and continued with his painting while working for several advertising and design agencies before deciding to become a full time artist in 1997. In April 2007, Paul and Yvonne opened the Artbox Studio/Gallery in Ngongotaha Village.

‘Breath’ by Paul Nicolai.

When I ask Paul to talk about his art he says, “It’s an obsession for me and I have to paint – I don’t know what makes me paint, what compels me, it’s just part of my being. 

“My paintings are a result of constant refining until the image represents something I saw or felt, a new order and a different way of seeing.

“For me painting is an exploration and never boring, there’s always something new and exciting around the next corner to discover.

“This is what I hope to convey to people when they see my art.”

Exposed, as we so often are, to New Zealand art style, design and motifs, it was interesting and refreshing to see these links with Paul’s European art heritage being executed with so much finesse and with such passion.

I thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in art that they call in to discover the Artbox Gallery and studio on the main road through Ngongotaha Village.

The trip over makes a pleasant art excursion when you continue on to Rotorua and visit Glenn McLeary’s stunning RedSpot Gallery and Kristian Lomath’s studio gallery both in the city centre.

To see more of Paul’s art go to and arrange a visit by emailing him at 

by Pete Morris (2011).

Pete Morris is an occasional painter and an art lover. He has a particular interest in promoting the visual arts in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.



This page archived at Perma CC in November of 2016:

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Paul Nicolai: Surrealist Experimenter

First Names:Paul
Last Name:Nicolai