ALBRECHT, Gretchen

Nationality: New Zealand
Website: Website
New Zealand artist
Born in Onehunga 1943
Lives and works in Auckland

Gretchen Albrecht was born in 1943 in Onehunga, Auckland, as the second child in a family of four. Her father was a builder and Albrecht benefited from the practical things her father passed on. Indeed, he assisted her when it came to bolting stretched canvasses together to create her first fan-shaped paintings.

As a painter Albrecht has followed a path of increasing abstraction of nature. The works from the sixties are peopled with ambivalent mythological characters. In the early seventies we find her concentrating on quasi-abstract plant shapes and colours, and by the eighties her work has become completely abstract.

In 1981 Albrecht created two complementary and contrasting works, the black Lament and the red Chant. Each of these consists of two mirroring and reversed separate fan-shaped paintings, and each also mirrors the other. They are a major step in the development of her work and style. She was no longer as distracted by the immense diversity of the individual elements of nature. Her paintings came to represent a series of visual meditations on dualities in nature - dark and light, summer and winter, cold and warm, solid and liquid, male and female, even love and hatred, good and evil.

These fan-shaped diptychs were a one off, but they served to introduce a focus on duality and contrast. Next Albrecht bolted together two separately painted quadrants, uniting and permanently juxtaposing correlating panels in semicircles. She calls these Hemispheres, invoking three-dimensional space (they also echo the semicircular and symmetrical compositions of Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca). In the earlier “Hemispheres” the movement of the brushstrokes follows the curve of the circle. Later Albrecht introduced vertical marks and used collaged elements to disrupt the single circular movement of the composition.

In 1989 she moulded the Hemispheres into the oval of a map, allowing her to encompass a whole world containing East-West and North-South correlations and oppositions. This shape - maybe aided by its referensce to the egg - conveys the idea of space even more effectively, to the point that, where a conflicting shape, such as a square or rectangle, is introduced, it appears to float free from the oval background creating the ultimate illusion of contrast and depth in Albrecht’s latest paintings.

The “Youth Print” series contains both Hemispheres and Ovals.