ALBRECHT, Gretchen

Orchard (For Keats)

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1985
Oil and acrylic on canvas
1830 x 3660mm

From 1981, the year in which she held the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at Otago University, and throughout the 1980s, Gretchen Albrecht concentrated on a series of shaped canvases known as Hemispheres. These paintings have in common a fixed format comprising two quadrants of a circle butted together. Like this one, in many of the paintings the quadrants have separate stretchers, the artist seeing them in terms of oppositions, each having its own colour identity. The bond between colour and format in these works acknowledges the direction taken by American painters Ellsworth Kelly and Kenneth Noland. Orchard (For Keats) utilises the same bright range of colours as her early Garden watercolours but the contrast between the two quadrants is minimised despite a firm downward stroke of colour indicating the vertical joint between to the two sections.

The squeegee-applied colour has been allowed to sweep across both quadrants fusing the two halves rather than separating them. In 1986 the Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui mounted a large scale Albrecht retrospective called AFTERnature in which the hemispheres signalled the most major shift in the artist’s work to date. In describing this painting which is part of a group of four from 1985 to which the artist gave the collective title “Seasonal”, Francis Pound has written: “there is a pulpy vertical up the centre (ripe, overripe) and a purple hole like a hole on a cloud”. Francis Pound, ‘Albrecht’s Hemispheres: The Realms of Connotation’, Art New Zealand 38 (autumn 1986): 38–42 (includes colour illustration of Orchard (For Keats)).

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