Whanganui artist Stanley Manthyng said David Bowie has always been his most popular commission since he started creating glitter portraits more than 20 years ago.

He had almost completed his most recent portrait of the rock star when he heard he had died this week.

"I heard a rumour some time back that he was ill with cancer but it wasn't confirmed," said Mr Manthyng.

The Bowie portrait, along with 14 others, will be travelling to Auckland for an exhibition to coincide with the 2016 Gay Pride Festival opening on February 18.

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"I have to stop posting the portraits to my Facebook page because they end up selling and I need to have enough ready for the exhibition."

The exhibition will be held at the Studio One Gallery in Auckland's Ponsonby Rd. Mr Manthyng said he has been allocated the entire top floor space. This will be the artist's first solo exhibition in Auckland for almost 20 years and he is both nervous and excited.

"It's going to be a great opening with lots of exhilarating people coming along," he said.

The portrait subjects all fit in with the gay pride theme and the latest work is a predominantly black and red portrait of songstress Amy Winehouse.

"They are not necessarily gay but they are all gay icons and they are from different eras."

Other famous faces in the exhibition include Blondie singer Debbie Harry, drag queen Devine and Freddy Mercury.