Hokitika, Aotearoa New Zealand 1876 – Perth, Western Australia, Australia 1968
In the studio
Paris, Île-de-France, Ville de Paris department, France
Materials & Technique: paintings, tempera on cardboard
Kathleen O’Connor grew up in Western Australia and became an artist who achieved national status. She left Australia in 1906 and remained overseas, mostly in Paris, for almost fifty years.
In the studio is a deeply personal image, a lived-in still life with objects from the artist’s personal life scattered on the table. It is energised by the patterned tablecloth, the folds in the blue fabric backdrop and the vigorous flecks of green, red and white paint that create the flowers in the pot. There is a sense of distortion in the way the space has been flattened and the tabletop tilted in a modernist fashion. O’Connor has focused on formal arrangement, exploring the possibilities of flat patterning and intense colours to construct her image. She drew the image in outline and then applied the paint thinly, leaving areas of the card exposed so as to give added warmth to the overall effect.
Around the time O’Connor painted this work she received a favourable review in the French magazine Les Artistes d’Aujourd’hui: ‘She is an incomparable colourist, as witness her still lifes, which are magnificent mosaics, in which all the colours vibrate and sing.’
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008