HANLY, Pat;

Showgirl and Gentlemen

1961
Oil on canvas
1500 x 1000mm

Inscriptions: Hanly 61 [l.r.]

Pat Hanly was born in Palmerston North. He was an apprentice hairdresser for four years, during which time he attended night school classes in art. From 1952, he studied for three years at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, where he was taught by Bill Sutton and Russell Clark. In 1957, he travelled to London, where he continued taking night classes. His first one person show was at the Comedy Gallery, London. In 1959, he took a job as stage manager at the Gargoyle Club from which experience the Showgirl series was to come. An Italian government scholarship in 1960 allowed him to paint the series in Florence, and a Dutch government grant made possible the Massacre of the Innocents series. In Europe, Hanly saw important and influential shows of work by Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso; he absorbed the work of Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and particularly Francis Bacon.

The figures in the Showgirl series, freely distorted in scale, colour and shape, clearly declare these influences. In his later works, the combination of neo-expressionist paint-handling and drawing that seems deliberately naive for symbolic effect has made the artist a powerful visual commentator on a wide range of political issues, including New Zealand’s nuclear free policies. In 1962, he and his wife, the noted photographer Gil Hanly, returned to Auckland where in 1963 he accepted a part-time lectureship at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture, a position from which he retired in 1992. A retrospective toured New Zealand in 1974. Hanly has represented the country in many exhibitions including the 1963 and 1966 Paris Biennales. Of his numerous public commissions, those at the Christchurch Town Hall, Auckland International Airport and the Aotea Centre are the best known.

Showgirl and Gentlemen is illustrated in Gregory O’Brien (ed.), Hanly (Tāmaki Makaurau: Ron Sang Publications, 2012), 43.

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