Media Release: November, 2009.
Exhibition by Wellington painter Gerda Leenards opens at City Gallery
The Hirschfeld Gallery will be transformed into a world of water and light with the opening of Gerda Leenards’ new exhibition on 27 November. Following the Blue Ribbon: Recent Works by Gerda Leenards will evoke the sense of gliding along a river, the gallery walls lined with Leenards’ most recent acrylic works, inspired by her trip to China’s Guangxi province last year. In particular it is the experience of sailing along the Li River, often referred to in poetry as ‘the blue ribbon’ that the artist aims to replicate.
Qualities of light, atmosphere and water are central to Leenards’ practice and in Following the Blue Ribbon: Recent Works by Gerda Leenards it is the much-discussed traits of Dutch light, New Zealand light and the light of China that underpin the works. Here, the light is always reflected in and diffused by water. In these images the Karst mountain ranges lining the banks of the Li River are reflected in the river’s surface, creating an atmosphere which is deeply still and contemplative.
Following the Blue Ribbon: Recent Works by Gerda Leenards is made up of a sequence of thirty narrow canvas panels along the side walls of the gallery, hung low to emphasise the continuous horizon line. The effect is a panoramic frieze that gives a sense of time lapse photography, but because the images are slightly disconnected, implies time elapsing.
This new cycle of works has been developed from Leenard’s earlier images of the Li River, a painted a series of works on canvas and antique screens, which were shown in a solo exhibition at Mark Hutchins Gallery in April this year.
Gerda Leenards currently lives in Breaker Bay, Wellington. Born in Nijmegen, Holland, in 1946, she immigrated with her family to New Zealand in 1956. After a career as a draughtswoman and a graphic design assistant, she completed a Diploma of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts in 1970. A 1992 trip to the Netherlands to take up a six month residency at Studio Elba in Nijmegen presented an opportunity to explore the artistic traditions of her homeland. European landscape painting traditions continue to influence her thinking about, looking at, and re-presentation of the local landscape.
In conjunction with the exhibition season, there will be two screenings of the award winning documentary Dutch Light exploring the significance of light in the Dutch painting tradition. The screenings will take place in the Adam Auditorium on 28th November and 2 December, see www.citygallery.org.nz for details. The Following the Blue Ribbon: Recent Works by Gerda Leenards catalogue, featuring an essay by Gregory O’Brien and introduction by Abby Cunnane, will be available at the gallery for $10.
Following the Blue Ribbon: Recent Works by Gerda Leenards
27 November 2009 - 24 January 2010