Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 24, No. 15. 1961.
Fine Arts Section — Art — Central Gallery
Fine Arts Section
The latest exhibition at the Central Gallery is of paintings by Vera Jamieson and Catherine Duncan, and provides quite a contrast to the previous exhibitor, June Black, whose forte was stringing together coloured pieces of clay to form odd-shaped and not easily comprehensive people to hang on walls. The work of Vera Jamieson and Catherine Duncan is enjoyable, mostly conventional and open to ready interpretation, competent, but not exciting.
I felt that the most successful of Vera Jamieson's paintings was the oil Back Country. Range upon range of yellow hills, scattered with dead trees left after the inevitable fire, and the pinks and browns of scrub and dry grass, are all that the eye can see; the result is a convincing and realistic painting, although the style is by no means the conventional photographic one of many landscapes. A similar subject was The Summit, where every colour imaginable was used, creating a nevertheless realistic atmosphere; but this treatment was not so successful when applied to the valleys. Evolution, a more abstract subject, was treated concretely (almost literally so). The painting had movement, there was a feeling of tremendous surge, like a monstrous earthquake, and massive rocks — grey-green, brownish pink — were tumbling to an undefined fate. The watercolour of totaras was a good impression of New Zealand bush — dense undergrowth, and immensely tall trees. The most satisfactory of her semi-abstract paintings was Construction at Night, which gave the expected impression of darkness and — perhaps it was a city night — of lights.
Atmosphere was good in Catherine Duncan's Mungatera River. The water was almost tangible, and the hanging plants in semi-light hinted at the essential characteristic of the river, which is perhaps its treacherous nature. The Rocks seemed vital too, hanging threateningly over grey, deep, ugly water; there was some power in the painting. The Mountain was also effective. The snow-covered peaks were angular colours blocked in purplish brown, green-blue, against a dense grey sky; but the subject might have suited a more clear-cut interpretation. There were shades of William Blake in Crucifixion; and Autumn was simply a fiery mass of brilliant colour. Concerto, however, I thought was a good abstract. The movement of the music was captured in a design of black curving lines and shapes like wave-crests contrasted with a background of dark red, brown and green v-shaped lines.
There is nothing really new or experimental in this exhibition, but the paintings are all sincere and therefore well worth looking at.
K. N. B.