BC094

Untitled

[Irises in a Brown Jar]

Still life. Flowers with long stems standing in a low container. Flowers and stems against a background of yellow brush work. Container against the white ground of the support.         

Date
1978 1983
Object type
painting
Medium and materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
image:480x350mm
frame:540x410mm
Place Made
Rotorua, New Zealand
Details
General notes

Painted at the Rotorua Masonic Village, New Zealand, where Flora Scales was a resident from 26 October 1978 until just before her death in January 1985.

Original owner Patience Tennent, the artist's niece.

V-shape of the flowers is reminiscent of the ship's rigging seen in Scales's work of the 1920s [Shipping, Wellington Harbour] [BC128]]. The flowers also bring to mind the agaves of the 1930s [Untitled [Mediterranean Scene] 1 [BC016]], the derricks of the 1950s [Untitled [Mousehole Cornwall 2] [BC029]] and the forked tree trunks of the late 1960s and early 1970s [Bry-sur-Marne, Orchard] [BC069]], in which this shape becomes a tool for her construction of dynamic pictorial space.

In the 1930s, the use of a V-shape as a spatial tool appeared in Scales’s work. In the 1920s Scales often painted yachts and ships and it seems she may have recognised the potential of the V-shape made by their riggings and masts and later began to incorporate the form into the vocabulary of her Modernist work following Hans Hofmann's instruction to do away with single-point perspective.

The V-shapes of the agaves, derricks and cranes, flowers, and forked orchard trees, that are such significant elements in her work during and after the 1930s, literally turn the idea of a vanishing point upside-down to suggest a space extending outwards towards the vertical edges of the canvas.

As well as the equilibrium established by the balanced vanes of the V-shape, there is also an immanent sense of movement. Hofmann said, "We have to experience the object as vital in her existence in space" (Dickey, Tina, Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann, Trillistar Books, Canada, 2011, pg 27). Hofmann explained that volumes revolve on their axes to create a sense of movement and counter-movement, which animates and gives depth to the flat surface of the picture plane.

Scales's use and manipulation of the V-shape is one of several examples in her work which demonstrate the way she assimilated, and made her own, the teachings of Hans Hofmann. This example in particular shows her personal interpretation, without imitation, of his theories about the creation of plastic space, which were crucial to the development of her modernism.