Oil on canvas
1130 x 875mm
Jean Horsley attended the Elam School of Art before going to England and the Chelsea School of Art in 1934. Returning to New Zealand because of the war, she trained as a physical therapist to earn a living but her interest in art never flagged and she continued to sketch and paint, having lessons from Colin McCahon at WEA classes and at Summer Schools.
At the end of the war she began to travel extensively – to Japan, South Africa and the USA. In 1961 she went to London where she lived, painted and exhibited for seven years before moving to New York where she remained for 15 years. The main influence on her painting at this time was the work of the Abstract Expressionists who changed her from “being a painter of scenes to try to come to terms with and to understand what modern art was about.” Jean Horsley returned to make her home in Auckland in 1981.
This work using the distinctive shapes of a Maori mere was begun in 1963 in London and only finished in New Zealand after the artist had returned to live in this country. Its shifting colour tonalities and interlocking shapes demonstrate the control which is the hallmark of Horsley’s best work.
Representation and Reaction: Modernism and the New Zealand Landscape Tradition 1956–1977, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua, Whanganui, 31 August to 27 October 2002 (toured)