CURATORS Vita Cochran, Linda Tyler, Peter Simpson ORGANISER Hocken Library, Dunedin OTHER VENUES Hocken Library SPONSORS Creative New Zealand, Russell McVeagh PUBLICATION publishers Godwit / Random House, City Gallery Wellington, Hocken Library; essays Vita Cochran, Jill Trevelyan
In 1982, a National Art Gallery retrospective confirmed Rita Angus’s status as an 'outstanding artist of her generation’. Since then, her popular appeal, reputation, and market value have soared. Thirty-one years after her death in 1970, City Gallery presents Live to Paint and Paint to Live. The title quotes Angus. In a letter to Gordon Brown, she wrote, 'I, as other painters do, live to paint and paint to live.' Initiated by and first exhibited at Dunedin’s Hocken Library, the show is expanded for Wellington. It has four sections. Vita Cochran curates two.
Cochran's Angus by Angus: Twenty-Three Self Portraits shows the artist depicting herself as a 'new woman’, a bohemian outsider, an artist who sees the world with clarity that those leading more conventional lives lack. Encompassing oils, watercolours, and drawings, it includes rarely seen nude self-portrait studies from the early 1940s. Cochran claims, 'Angus's self-portraits form the most striking and sustained episode of self-scrutiny in this country's art history.'
Cochran's other section, Rita Angus's Wellington, is made specifically for City Gallery. Angus lived in Wellington from 1954 until her death and painted numerous local subjects, including Bolton Street Cemetery, Island Bay, Suzy’s Coffee Lounge, and her Thorndon cottage and garden. These are works of art and visual records. The Gallery organises walking tours of Thorndon during the show.
Rita Angus and Marjorie Marshall in Central Otago, curated by Linda Tyler, expands on a little-known artistic relationship. Angus and Marshall studied together at art school, and Angus spent time at Marshall’s Wanaka holiday home. This section presents Otago-landscape paintings, studies, and watercolours made between 1938 and 1958 by both women.
Rita Angus and Leo Bensemann: The Cambridge Terrace Years, curated by Peter Simpson, focuses on Angus and Bensemann’s close relationship in the years they worked in adjacent studios on Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch, when they would often use each other as subjects.
The show is part of the Four Faces of New Zealand Art season, which includes shows on Gavin Hipkins, Michael Illingworth, and Peter Peryer.