Exiles – Rudolf Boelee
Exiles – Rudolf Boelee
14 December 2009 – 7 February 2010
Timed to coincide with
3 other concurrently themed exile exhibitions: - Ey! Iran
developed by the Gold Coast City Art Gallery and Bah’ai
Martyrs of Iran – Shahriar Asdollah-zadeh and Duality of
Exile – Fred Uhlman in Captivity curated by Scott
Exiles is a series of 7 striking portrait paintings of figures from that Great Depression Era generation of New Zealanders, described as ‘the cream of their generation’ - pathfinders and cultural explorers who went where few Kiwis had been before. Arresting and confrontational these acrylic on hessian paintings depict images of New Zealand men and women whose individualism and idealism sometimes put them on the fringes of their own culture. They have been selected by the artist as homage to their ability to see beyond boundaries and the confines of their homeland.
Exiles has toured nationally to galleries
in Christchurch, Auckland, Blenheim, Oamaru, Invercargill
and Gore and was most recently exhibited at the Rotorua
Museum. Boelee’s work was last on view at the Whangarei
Art Museum in the exhibition ‘Inheriting the Netherlands
– A Century of Dutch Art in New Zealand’ in 2000.
Born in 1940 in war-torn Holland under Nazi Occupation Boelee has a deep and personal connection to the impact of world events and how a sense of ‘exile’ can be felt both ‘at home’ – and in enforced distance from it, connecting his works to the 3 concurrent exhibitions at the art museum on the theme of ‘art in exile’.
Brasch Robin Hyde Dan Davin Rewi
James Bertram Geoffrey Cox John Mulgan
All of them travelled, engaged with the world
beyond these shores, exiled themselves …most apart from
Rewi Alley were born about the time of the First World War
so their experiences through the Depression and Second World
Wars had a profound effect on them…..highly intelligent,
sensitive and observant they used their creativity to
promote the greater good, in most cases through
Marian Maguire writes of this series of works;
‘Seeing his homeland ravaged by war he chose
to live in this country, the New Land, in a youthful search
for utopia. In selecting these seven Exiles he identifies
the need to look beyond regionalism at the wider issues for humanity.
Rudolf Boelee has painted these portraits as bold chiaroscuro heads that completely dominate the coarse weave of the hessian surface. Each portrait is painted from a photograph. The backgrounds are dark; solid black. Light radiates off the facial planes in sharp contrast. Facial shadows are painted in a single flat colour, a different colour for each person, so although the images are bold, almost confrontational, the features are flattened, increasing the drama. The impression of each person,
the idea of them resounds more strongly than their physical reality.
Like many other works by Boelee the paintings flash like stills from film noir and create curiosity about the moments before and afterwards. Each of the Exiles had a full and active life and, aside from Geoffrey Cox, have all died. Despite the solidity of their achievements it is hard not to think that their lives, albeit intense, were fleeting.’
In the words of James
Bertram, "Hard to explain now just how strongly we all felt
in those days. But it wasn't just politics, rather, a sort
of evangelical sense of mission, of not allowing oneself to
become contaminated and absorbed into the