James Johnstone, c. 1953. Oil on Canvas. UC/MBL/2330
After moving to New Zealand in 1926, James Johnstone would begin exhibiting regularly in many of Christchurch’s most prominent exhibitions. In particular, he became involved with ‘The Group’, an informal association that had no rules or boundaries, and provided opportunities for young, emerging and experimental artists to show their work. Though catalogues from the first two Group shows were not published, available records show that Johnstone participated in at least twelve Group shows, showing mainly his oil paintings as opposed to jewellery or silverware, and these often garnered praise from newspaper critics. In the 1953 Group Show, Johnstone exhibited five paintings, one of which is listed as Springtime, Allandale, to be sold for ten guineas. Though we cannot be sure that this is the exact painting, it is likely that they were at least produced at similar times. It is one of many Canterbury landscapes completed by Johnstone during his career, and shows his attention to naturalistic light and colour. From the dirt path in the foreground, to the highest peak of the hills and the trees in between, the colours are harmonious shades of browns and greens. Even light blue sky has a green hue to it, and throughout, thick directional brushstrokes indicate the direction of the light and form of the hills and trees. This produces an idyllic, tranquil countryside scene, yet one that is dwarfed by the hills of Banks Peninsula.
James Johnstone : A selection of artworks
Click on the thumbnails to discover more about this striking selection of artworks by James Johnstone. Images selected and written about by Alice Tappenden.