ALBRECHT, Gretchen;

Orchard (For Keats)

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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. In many of the paintings, including this one, 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 acknowledges the direction taken by American painters Ellsworth Kelly and Kenneth Noland. Orchard (For Keats) utilises the same bright range of colours as Albrecht’s early Garden watercolours. The contrast between the two quadrants is minimised, despite a firm downward stroke of colour marking 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 Te Whare o Rehua, Whanganui, 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.’[1]


[1] Francis Pound, ‘Albrecht’s Hemispheres: The Realms of Connotation’, Art New Zealand 38 (Autumn 1986): 38–42.

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Albrecht 85 [l.r.]

Exhibition History

Gretchen Albrecht: Illuminations, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Tāmaki Makaurau, 20 April to 28 July 2002

Content/Context: A Survey of Recent New Zealand Art 1986, curated by Luit Bieringa, National Art Gallery (later the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa), Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 1 September to 4 December 1986

Centre for Contemporary Art, Kirikiriroa Hamilton, 1986

Seasonal, Artist’s Project, Auckland City Art Gallery (later Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki), 13 December 1985 to 7 March 1986


Ron Brownson, Gretchen Albrecht: Illuminations (Tāmaki Makaurau: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Godwit, 2002), 48.

Luke Smythe, Gretchen Albrecht: Between Gesture and Geometry (Tāmaki Makaurau: Massey University Press, 2023), 274.


Fletcher Trust Collection, purchased from Sue Crockford Gallery, 1985