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Braund, Dorothy  

Paula Furby

(b Melbourne, Nov 15, 1926).

Australian painter, teacher and critic. In 1943 Braund studied at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and then undertook a five year diploma at the National Gallery School of Victoria (1944–9) with the modernist Alan Sumner (b 1911). Braund also studied privately with George Bell. In her final year Braund won prizes for Drawing the Figure and Painting a Still Life, which were judged by Constance Stokes. Braund travelled in Europe and England between 1950–51 and was drawn to classical beauty in art, whether ancient or modern, and especially Etruscan art. She subsequently became a regular traveller to Europe and Asia.

Braund painted in oil and gouache, with her main subject being the human figure. Her first major work Figure Composition (Brisbane, Queensland A.G.), entered for the National Gallery School Travelling Scholarship of 1949, is a classical arrangement of figures in modern dress. Thereafter her figure compositions became simplified and abstracted, simplification being the essence of Braund’s aesthetic. Compositional elements are held in tension by finely observed relationships of colour, form and tone and often unusual perspectives. Her paintings are humane, witty and rhythmical, with subjects taken from the beach, boating, playing fields, social occasions and travel observations....


Gibson, Elizabeth  

Nancy Underhill


(b Ipswich, Queensland, May 16, 1868; d Brisbane, July 13, 1961).

Australian painter, active also in France. Gibson exhibited at the Royal Academy London and Paris Salons when they stood as bulwarks against modernism. In 1905, after art studies under Godfrey Rivers (1859–1925) at the Central Technical College, Brisbane had very little to offer her. The National Gallery of Queensland had no collection and few exhibitions came, so her aesthetic mainstays were the British magazines Studio and London Illustrated News.

Her respectable family supported Gibson’s decision to live in Paris as an artist, so she settled in Montparnasse and studied at Colarrossi’s with the New Zealand watercolourist Frances Hodgkins and at Castelucho’s, both haunts of foreign artists. During World War I Gibson went to Britain, then went briefly to Paris and finally, aged 79, returned to Brisbane in 1947. Gibson’s career included having one of her miniatures accepted at the Royal Academy in 1905, winning first prize for the best miniature in the First Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work, Melbourne in ...


Mrkusich, Milan  

Kyla Mackenzie

(b Dargaville, April 5, 1925).

New Zealand painter. Self-taught, Mrkusich pioneered abstract modernism in New Zealand in the 1940s, a period when there was little acceptance of abstract art there. He co-founded the Auckland design firm Brenner Associates in 1949. His interest in European and American modernism, and the Bauhaus school, informed both his early painting and architectural designs of the 1940s and 1950s, which in turn, influenced each other. His early works on paper explored spatial concerns using line, geometric and organic forms, and colour. Mrkusich’s approach to colour was generally informed by Kandinsky’s writing on the emotive and metaphysical power of colour and its receding and advancing qualities. The orchestration of irregular coloured squares and rectangles in Buildings (1955; Wellington, Mus. NZ, Te Papa Tongarewa) echoes Piet (er Cornelis) Mondrian’s Boogie Woogie paintings of the 1940s.

Mrkusich painted full-time from 1958, and from c. 1960 he began to paint with a gestural spontaneity reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism. In these paintings irregular networks of brushwork form loose grids. In other works, amorphous colour fields are overlaid by, or adjacent to, finely drawn straight lines, circles, and squares. Geometric shapes appear in the ...


Walters, Gordon  

Kyla Mackenzie

( Frederick )

(b Wellington, Sept 24, 1919; d Christchurch, Nov 6, 1995).

New Zealand painter and printmaker. Like Milan Mrkusich , Walters was dedicated to modernist abstraction during a period when the landscape genre predominated in New Zealand art. He trained as a graphic artist between 1935 and 1939 and studied art at Wellington Technical College (1939–40). At this time he was drawn to the economical formal values of Maori and Oceanic art at the Dominion Museum in Wellington.

In 1941 he met Theo Schoon , an Indonesian-born Dutch artist who encouraged Walters’ interest in modernist European art and non-European art. Walters’ abstract works of the early 1940s (e.g. Waikanae Landscape, 1944; Auckland, A.G.), were informed by Surrealist artists such as Tanguy. His diverse interests were unusual in the context of New Zealand art. In 1946 he recorded the austere Maori rock designs being documented by Schoon in South Canterbury. In Australia (1946 and 1947–9) he researched contemporary art in libraries, museum collections of non-European art, and Aboriginal rock drawings and bark paintings. ...


Woollaston, Sir M(ountford) T(osswill)  

G. Barnett

(b Taranaki, April 11, 1911; d 1998).

New Zealand painter . He resolved to become a painter in the early 1930s, when the influence of early modernism was only just beginning to trickle down to colonial New Zealand. He had little formal training, but early paintings such as Artist’s Wife (c. 1937; Auckland, C.A.G.) show the influence of Paul Cézanne, absorbed through reproductions. Similarly, the examples of R. N. Field, arriving from Europe, and Helen F. V. Scales (1887–1985), returning from there, were crucial. Field’s paintings released him from naturalistic colour, while Scales’s showed him how to deploy this released colour for spatial effects.

From the 1950s Woollaston began to increase the scale of his paintings, developing the gestural and apparently spontaneous approach that marked his mature style. Dispensing with detail, his broad handling drew greater attention to the logic by which his paintings were constructed. In works such as Above Wellington (1.76×2.74 m, 1986...