Topic: Paul Nicolai: Ngongotaha Discovery

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When we find something extra special in art, most of us, by inclination, just have to share it. I was driving through to Rotorua recently and decided to call in to see the surrealist painter Paul Nicolai at his Ngonotaha Village studio.

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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 opened the Artbox Studio/Gallery in Ngongotaha with his partner, photographer Yvonne Westra.

In his large painting, 'Artist and Model', Paul uses vibrant complementary colour combinations and revisits a classic theme presented by Picasso, Matisse and many other famous artists from the past.

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."

Paul Nicolai
Paul utilises a completely different limited earthy palette in 'Bosch II', an artwork inspired by the surreal visions of Bosch and the genre painting of Brueghel. 

Exposed, as we so often are, to New Zealand artstyle, 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 see Paul's Ngonotaha studio. See more of his art on and arrange a visit by emailing him at

by Pete Morris (2010).

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.


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Paul Nicolai: Ngongotaha Discovery

First Names:Paul
Last Name:Nicolai

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