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Exhibition of Works of Rita Angus on display in Hamilton


Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, July 28, 2023

Te Papa touring exhibition ‘Rita Angus- New Zealand Modernist, He Ringatoi Hou o Aotearoa’ is now on display at Hamilton’s Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, bringing together 20 works by iconic 20th Century artist Rita Angus (1908–1970).

The exhibition runs from July 22, 2023 to September 17, 2023, entry to which is free.

The works on display span Angus’ life and career as an artist, drawing out the themes of pacifism, feminism and nature, which shaped much of her work.

The exhibition includes many of Angus’ most important works, such as Rutu (1951), Cleopatra (1938), and Central Otago (1953-56/1969).

“We are delighted to share this wonderful selection of Rita Angus’ works with our visitors. This is a significant opportunity to showcase one of New Zealand’s most important early modern artists for our audiences in Hamilton and beyond,” Liz Cotton, Director of Museum and Arts, Waikato Museum, said.

Rita Angus with her self-portrait (Image by Te Ara-Encyclopaedia of New Zealand)

Significant acquisitions

‘Rita Angus: New Zealand Modernist’ features two significant recent acquisitions made by Te Papa for the national art collection.

Marjorie Marshall(1938-39/1943) is a remarkable portrait of Angus’s friend and fellow artist, set against the backdrop of the Central Otago Mountains.

The Aviatrix (1933) is one of Angus’s most important early works, a striking portrait of her sister Edna, the first woman pilot in the East Coast Aero Club, wearing her flying costume.

Te Papa Museum’s Head of Art, Charlotte Davy said, “Rita Angus: New Zealand Modernist is an exhibition for the whole family to enjoy. This exhibition will introduce a new generation of New Zealanders to Rita Angus’ work. It is remarkable how much power and relevance her paintings still have today.”

About the artist

Rita Angus is one of New Zealand’s most iconic artists. She produced a remarkable body of drawings, watercolours, and paintings.

A committed feminist, and a pacifist, Ms Angus’ work was deeply entwined with her view of the world. In her portraits and landscape paintings, with their distinctive clear colours and flat, graphic style, she created a unique image of twentieth-century New Zealand.

Her biography, written by Jill Trevelyan, was published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 2000, defining Angus as an austere, disciplined, and often exacting woman, who was sustained by her belief in her vocation, and a religious philosophy informed by Far Eastern thought.

Always interested in contemporary art developments, she was nevertheless resolute in pursuing her own way as an artist.

“I am not wholly concerned with art trends as I prefer to find a deeper insight to the limitations which face a New Zealand painter,” she said.

Angus set an example to New Zealand artists through her dedication, professionalism and concern for artists’ rights, such as copyright.

In 1947, she summed up her attitude towards art: “As a woman painter, I work to represent the love of humanity and faith in mankind in a world, which is to me, richly variable and infinitely beautiful.”

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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