Hyper-real paintings of the ocean, rivers and rugged landscape of New Zealand have established Isaac Petersen firmly as an artist. River water flowing over boulders, white water smashing onto rocks, and contemplative subjects such as waves lapping on the sand are rendered with phenomenal detail, depth, and transparency by Petersen. His figurative series depicting women in and around water is equally seductive, especially when he captures the figure diving into the water.
These works are so real you can feel the sun on your shoulders and hear the water ripple and splash. His wife, Erika is often the female figure in his paintings. Poolside scenes of her floating with sunlight on her skin or submerged under the surface are so technically brilliant they defy belief.
His paintings, without question, take the viewer with them. The work is predominantly large-scale – by amplifying the subject, it intensifies the connection of the viewer with his painted world. The exquisite detail he achieves and the way he captures light are a pure delight to view.
Petersen grew up on the rugged shores of the North Island’s west coast and now splits his time between the coastal towns of New Plymouth and Australia’s Byron Bay. Painting for over two decades he has artwork in private collections around the world and is represented by dealer galleries in Sydney, Queenstown, Napier, and Auckland.
“My work is a culmination of stories from my life, my home, and places I have been,” Petersen says. “I hope to leave the viewer with a good feeling. Whether they can relate to my painting with a past experience, or by a fantasy of somewhere they would like to go, my painting should take them there.”
Q & A’s – Isaac Petersen – July Exhibition 2023
Q) Who and what inspires your artwork?
A - Mostly I’m inspired by nature, that's why I predominantly paint land and seascapes. I have always lived by the beach, that’s why you see a lot of the ocean in my work over the years. When I travel I'm always inspired to paint where I visit, whether it be the landscape, town or the people.
Q) What do you think it is about your work that immediately captures the hearts of collectors?
A - The first reaction people usually have when they see my work is, "wow, that's a painting?" People always tell me they experience nostalgia, which makes me happy.
Q) Tell us more about your creative process?
A - The hardest part in creating a piece of work is the idea. The funnest part of coming up with an idea is taking photos. This is the part when I'm outside exploring and gaining inspiration, whether I'm on holiday photographing everything, taking a stroll along the beach, or on a bush walk. Painting is the easier part for me, this is done at home in my studio. It's incredibly long hours, and not the easiest on my body, sitting for long periods of time. In the end, it's always rewarding to see the culminations of my work come together in an exhibition. It's also pleasing to see people enjoy my art.
Q) Can you tell us about your success as an artist and your biggest career highlight to date?
A - I've been painting and getting paid from my art since I left school. So being fortunate enough to do that is a huge success. For me, working for myself and doing something I love is the ultimate freedom.
Q) What can we expect to see in this upcoming exhibition?
A - 'A World Apart', expresses the beauty I see in New Zealand. My aim was to paint the landscape in a more contemporary way. I'd like to take people into my painting, and have them come out with a thought, feeling or action, something good and positive I hope.