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Record Image
Albrecht, Gretchen Winifred (New Zealand, b.1943), Artist
acrylic on canvas
1175 x 2365 mm
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1981 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.
Gretchen Albrecht painted Cardinal in 1981. Her first ‘hemisphere’, it was her response to the arched ecclesiastical frescoes she had discovered in Italy two years before: those of Renaissance painters such as Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Duccio and Giotto. Albrecht had been captivated by these artists’ scenes of the Annunciation. She was also moved by Piero’s Madonna Del Parto, in which a heavily pregnant Mary is centrally placed while angels divide the curtains of her overarching canopy. She points to her womb through a dramatic split-like opening in her dress.
With its joining of two parts, Cardinal began Albrecht’s colourful exploration of the colloquy or conversation between woman and angel, and the strange unity and equilibrium that results when opposites, or ‘different energies’, combine. The join in the canvas represents a ‘fusion’ and the artist’s reference to herself as a woman and mother, ‘made whole again’, marked by a Caesarean scar. The work also illuminates the revelatory and protective space of a canopy, and of tents, capes and skirts. Its colours are that of a priestly cope and the raiment of Virgin and angel. Aptly named Cardinal, it is fundamental to the ideas and personal references that the artist has continued to layer into her work.

not on view

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