Paul Hartigan has been a key figure in New Zealand’s contemporary art movement since he graduated with a Diploma in Fine Art from the Elam School of Fine Arts in 1974. His career spans four decades, and includes more than 35 solo shows and numerous group shows. His work encompasses a variety of disciplines, including print, photography, painting, and sculpture. Hartigan’s early works reflect his international outlook, which was influenced by the Pop Art movement in Europe and America. His fascination with popular culture, as well as his subversive wittiness, are characteristics still prevalent in his practice today.
Hartigan is widely recognised as New Zealand’s foremost neon artist. Existing as light drawings in space, his neon works occupy both the domestic and public realms. In 2006, Hartigan was awarded the Best Public Sculpture Auckland award for Colony (2004), which can be seen on permanent display in the University of Auckland’s Engineering building. Hartigan’s work is represented in major collections throughout New Zealand, as well as Australia’s Queensland Art Gallery.