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Frances Hodgkins: Leitmotif

December 2006

Frances Hodgkins: Leitmotif

Landscape, still life and portraiture were the favourite compositional motifs and genre that Frances Hodgkins, one of New Zealand’s most original and internationally acclaimed artists, drew on repeatedly throughout her paintings.

Leitmotif, which opens at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu this Friday, 8 December, explores how Hodgkins used a variety of recurring motifs to express her remarkable vision.

The exhibition is important because it provides a unique opportunity to view a large body of Frances Hodgkins’ work to be exhibited from her mature period, says Gallery curator (Works on Paper) Peter Vangioni.

Included in the exhibition is Wings over Water from London’s Tate Gallery. Vangioni says it is a key work in the development of Hodgkins' individual style, being a combination of still life and landscape. Painted in the winter of 1931-32, Wings over Water depicts the view from the artist’s rooms in Bodinnick, Cornwall, and is closely related to an elaborate drawing of the same name in the exhibition.

Leitmotif was inspired by the findings of a major conservation research project which discovered how Hodgkins translated her drawings and watercolour techniques into her gouache and oil paintings of the 1930s and 1940s.

Vangioni say this collection of works represents the period during which Hodgkins’ reputation was at its height – offering an unprecedented opportunity to see the work on which her international reputation is based.

An Auckland Art Gallery Touring Exhibition, Leitmotif includes six works from the Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection: Spanish Still Life and Landscape, Zipp, Pleasure Garden, Farmyard, Sabrina’s Garden, and Boy in a Wood.

Frances Hodgkins: Leitmotif features 51 paintings and drawings. It is at the Christchurch Art Gallery from 8 December 2006 to 20 February 2007.


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