Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 10 June 8, 1938
Academy Art — Autumn Display
An exhibition of the work of any large, loose group of artists Is inevitably lopsided and the autumn collection from the N.Z. Academy of Fine Arts now showing at the Art Gallery is no exception. There is much that is competently stereotyped and a little that is experimentally exciting. When so many artists in the group are exclusively doing watercolours it is a pity that more or them do not exploit the cheapness and accessibility of the medium by being a little less precise and a little more stimulating. Many of the paintings hung this year could have been painted twenty years ago and will probably still be seen cluttering the gallery twenty years hence. Too many flower studies are a loose mass of colour, lacking any point of tension. Odd petals lie on a water-marked table and a curtain makes the background. A book or ornament completes the tableau. This style of thing may make a good art-class lesson In technique, but the results are more happily hung in a bedroom than in an art exhibition. E. V. Pope's "Kowhai" is good for arrangement and colour and lack of fussiness, but the inevitable curtain blurs the pattern of black stems, and W. S. Wauchop's picture, "Hydrangeas," is also a study of green apples, a Buddha and a pawa shell.
An occasional landscape in watercolour can be vigorous and refreshing. T. A. McCormack achieves this by using a strong rhythm of line and colour and an elimination of detail. His "Hawke's Hay Hills" and "The Road to the Bridge" are a delight. Fresh, personal and tense, they draw one back again and again. Nugent Welch, with less rhythm and more subtle lighting effects, does the same. His skies and trees are lovely.
Possibly the most refreshing watercolour stylist hung this year. Angus Gray, with his two harbour scenes and a pine tree, has made a corner or real interest. His pictures ate delicate and sure, and they do convey an atmosphere. His technique and point or view are individual and unhampered. It is a pity that only three exhibits come from his brush.
In oils. John S. Barraud has achieved an effect reminiscent of Van Gogh, both in technique and colouring. "Spring Sunshine" and "Sunlit Valley" have a quality and vitality rare in this class. The delicate constructional balance of these two studies is particularly noteworthy, although it is the colour that first attracts attenion.
Perhaps the most finished and pleasing portraits are Mrs. Tripe's, because her flesh tones are unforced and she makes cold greens and grays look warm and natural. Her backgrounds are not curtains and they do not Intrude. Incidentally, the subjects or the portraits look interesting. "In a London Studio" is a fine painting or herself against a subdued view of London roof-tops and chimney-pots that is quite charming. Again, her unusual use of grays is noticeable.
One other oil which provokes comment is "Spring Morning," by Marcus King, which achieves its atmosphere us much by its colour as by its subject. A branch of spring blossom flung across a window and a bowl or irises give point to the title, but the dark plum purples of the interior are the beauty of the picture.
It is an exhibition which leaves one in doubt as to the issue or art in New Zealand.