Two colourful exhibitions with very different flavours are now showing at the Hastings Community Art Gallery.

Brazil-born Mauricio Benega is showing 13 works in the upstairs gallery, many of which have never been seen.

The exhibition titled Just Keep Paddling includes oils on canvas along with works that have been painted on wood, recycled from old pallets.

His quirky style sets him apart from other artists and his work often features humour or irony, alongside images of the New Zealand lifestyle and beach culture.


Many of his works also contain serious messages or themes, but rather than spell them out he prefers people to work it out for themselves.

"I love it when people come to me and tell me they've seen something in my work that I had no idea was there, or that my work inspired them somehow."

Benega came to New Zealand in 2002 after reading a book about the New Zealand way of life.

Returning in 2004, he met his partner Trudy, and 11 years and two kids later he is now a citizen and is happy to call New Zealand home.

Benega's work will be familiar to many local people who drive past his large-scale murals daily.

In October last year, he was one of 11 nationally recognised artists commissioned by the Hastings District Council to produce a mural for the Hawke's Bay Opera House fence as part of the 100-year celebrations.

He is also responsible for the striking mural adorning the wall of the Clive Memorial Pool, and will shortly start work on another mural project for Creative Hastings.

In the downstairs gallery, Hawke's Bay artist Doreen Chatvick is holding an exhibition of more than 30 works, titled Special Places.

While Chatvick's style is more traditional than Benega's, her work is no less dramatic. Featuring vibrant landscapes along with abstract works, her paintings reveal her deep love for colour and eye for depicting places of beauty.

Chatvick said watching her grandfather paint when she was younger inspired her to try her hand at art. But it wasn't until she retired a decade ago that she picked up the paint brushes for the first time.

"Number one on my bucket list was to see if I had any of my grandfather's talent," she said. She was delighted when her first small attempts at painting were bought by an American couple.

She has gone on to sell paintings to buyers in Australia, South Africa and the United States, as well as many parts of New Zealand.


* Mauricio Benega's Just Keep Paddling/Doreen Chatvick's Special Places.

* April 11 to 23.

* Hastings Community Art Centre.

* Russell St South, Hastings.