Dean Buchanan was born in 1952. As a child growing up on Auckland’s North Shore he was always busy, always drawing, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, images from the comics, vast jigsaw puzzles always on the go. By the time he attended Westlake Boys as a teenager, Dean was already painting, at school, and at home in the garage. And they were big paintings, two metres and more. Oils mostly, themes drawn from Dean’s own fast-developing intellectual life and the seas of New Zealand suburbia surrounding Castor Bay. And he was running cross-country at Westlake Boys, developing the other great passion in his life, a delight in that physical exertion which leads to extreme fitness. Dean’s Dad was a drunk, and didn’t like his painting. He left home and moved into the heart of urban Auckland. He was brimming with energy, passion and talent and dived enthusiastically into city life.
Youth culture was blossoming round the world. Long hair, rock music and too much alcohol. But Dean was also transfixed by line and colour, by the complex geometries of New Zealand landscape and bush. He still wanted only to be an artist. He had to develop his own unique style and voice. He cycled and walked. He painted. He climbed mountains and looked down from the top. He painted. He travelled to England and visited all the famous galleries. He painted. He and his wife Helga Strewe built a house perched in the bush-clad hills high above Karekare beach on Auckland’s West Coast. He gave up alcohol. He painted. He cycled, he walked the bush trails of the Waitakeres, he climbed mountains. He painted. The same punishing regime of work and exercise is maintained today, up well before dawn, painting in his studio down the bush path from his house, cycling, climbing, and always more painting. Dean has found his unique voice, his unique vision of the world around him and now as ever he seeks only to