Parallel Play

Frances Hodgkins and her European Contemporaries

25 October 2014 - 6 December 2015

Frances Hodgkins strongly believed that to be an artist, and a successful artist, she needed to be in Europe. Her first excursion to Europe was in 1901 where she visited many galleries, attended life drawing classes at the London Polytechnic and spent the summer sketching under the tutelage of British artist Norman Garstin. In 1906, at aged thirty-six, Hodgkins sailed to England again, only returning to New Zealand for short visits. Her last trip home was in 1913 – she would spend the rest of her life in Britain and Europe. 

Europe, in the early 1900s, was a creative hub where artistic movements such as cubism, futurism, expressionism and abstract art originated. Hodgkins was a strong follower of Monet, Pissarro, Degas and Sisley; she was also familiar with the works of Cezanne, van Gogh and Gauguin.  Hodgkins brought these artists models and theories to her practice, and continued to expand her paintings repertoire by working in a diverse range of materials (producing oils, watercolours, gouaches and drawings) and employing a rich array of subject matter.

Parallel Play aims to highlight similarities, connections and relationships between a selection of work by Hodgkins with those of her European contemporaries. These works, all from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s permanent collection, investigate and compare various elements including: the treatment of the canvases; the style or movement (e.g. cubist, impressionist); use of line; subject matter; mood; pattern; treatment of figures; colour; and light. 

Here, Hodgkins’ Red Cockerel and Braque’s Oiseaux et Lotus, beyond the similarities of the bird motif, both feature a cubist aesthetic. There is an emphasis on and play with the two-dimensionality of the visual field; subject matter is fractured and broken creating abstract and geometric forms. In another example, Hodgkins’ use of brushstrokes, line and colour palette in Yudi Y Morohas similarities with Rouault’s treatment of his subjects in La Parade

During her artistic career Hodgkins cemented her reputation as a significant modern artist who created delicate harmonies and had a unique style. Whether an interpretation of a still life, a section of landscape, a boat scene or a woman sitting by a window, Parallel Play provides the space to contemplate her work in conjunction with other highly acclaimed artists of early modernism.

Curated by Lauren Gutsell

« Back to past exhibitions