Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 5. 1964.
Joan Fanning's much publicised exhibition at the Centre Gallery consists of a number of oil paintings, a large number of uninteresting nude studies in water colour and some striking colour lithographs.
Among the oil paintings are 5 portraits. The only one which reflects any strength of character is that of Mrs. Lau, undoubtedly the best of the group The rest seem too stereotyped.
The still-life paintings are not very inspiring nor is the copy of the Card Players (discreetly catalogued as after Cezanne) but which is in fact a straight copy.
Upon reflection copies of the more famous paintings by artists today seems to show' up a certain weakness or insecurity otherwise they would not look back for inspiration; it can of course be argued that great works are copied as an exercise in the development of individual technique, but if this is so, such exercise should never be exhibited.
This one copy of Cezanne does not however have the same disastrous effect on the showing as the Reubens copies had on Berwald's recent exhibition.
Two scenes of Wellington among the collection are interesting because of the delicate fragile colours the artist uses; all the colours are reduced to pale blues and variations of mauve through to white. This is a distinct change from the interpretations of the same scene by artists such as Juliet Peter, John K. Castle and Peter MacIntyre.
The painting of Mecklenburgh Square, where Joan Fanning lived while studying in London, vies for position of the best painting with a study of an easel and a stool, incompletely painted and termed Project 1. Mecklenburgh Square is depicted under snow, the central features of the painting being the gaunt snow-covered trees standing out against the grey background.
The water-colours are among a series of studies the artist painted while in Salzburg at a special Summer School. The majority of the paintings are nude studies done with a very different brush technique which makes for effective colour blending; that is to say the outline is not of one colour but of several shades ranging from pinks to greens. Close up this is very effective but from a distance the sheer blowsiness and pot-bellied ugliness of the models catches one's attention more than the finer points of brush work.
The water-colour portraits are very good, much more so than the portraits in oils. A very effective floral group and a still life are the best of the rest.
The artist has employed a very useful device for giving clarity to her nude figures; this is a thin black border on the inside of the wide picture frame. Those without this line do not stand out nearly as clearly as those with it.
The lithographs are among the best seen at recent exhibitions in Wellington. Joan Fanning studied lithography while in London and judging from the few on display the medium is particularly suited to her style.
Because Joan Fanning is now an established artist of some repute both here and overseas, with a distinctly individual style, the exhibition is of great interest to those interested in art. The prices are unfortunately alarmingly high.