Words: Charlotte Middleton
Gow Langsford Gallery has announced it is now representing Jacqueline Fahey. Combining portraiture with suburban landscapes, Fahey’s paintings are “riotously colourful compositions that revel in the chaos of domesticity,” according to the Auckland-based gallery.
A married mother of three early in her artistic career, Fahey adopted unconventional colour, technique and subject matter in reaction against the stifling gender norms of 1950s and 1960s New Zealand.
Whilst seeking to challenge the status quo, a sense of affection for the women and relationships portrayed is nonetheless evident in Fahey’s work, where elements such as clothing, interiors and bouquets are rendered in careful detail.
Born in Timaru in 1929, Fahey’s artistic education began at age 16, when she commenced studies at the Canterbury College School of Art (now Ilam). It was during this time that she befriended notable members of the Christchurch collective of exhibiting artists, The Group, including Rita Angus and Doris Lusk.
“It wasn’t so much that they influenced the way I painted,” Fahey says of these friendships. “What they did was allow me to be professional, to think of it as my life.” Fahey’s dedication to the feminist cause saw her playing an instrumental part in promoting female peers, organising the first actively ‘gender-balanced’ exhibition with Angus, which was staged at Centre Gallery, Wellington in 1964.
Recognised for her contribution to feminist art both in New Zealand and internationally, two of Fahey’s paintings were included in a major exhibition at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, titled WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (2007).
In 1997, Fahey was named an Officer of New Zealand Merit (ONZM) for her services to art. In 2013, she was granted an Arts Foundation Icon Award, the organisation’s highest honour and restricted to a circle of twenty living artists.
Fahey’s first solo exhibition with Gow Langsford Gallery is planned for April 2021.
Image: Jacqueline Fahey, Geoffrey back from America, 1994. Oil on board, framed 123.5 x 91.5cm.