Menzies Art Brands



Mrs Rehfischs success depends on an unusual combination of qualities. There are many artists with a strong feeling for pattern; many with a keen sense of colour; and many equipped with a ready technique for expressing tone and texture. Mrs Rehfisch, however, excels in all three departments. This gives her canvases their singular effect of completeness and concentration. The effect is most noticeable in the still-life subjects, especially Green and Orange and Lemon and Grey.1

Lemon and Grey 1933 is a singular example of Alison Rehfischs still-life paintings, created during the most important year of her working life. In April 1933, Rehfisch staged her first joint exhibition with fellow Sydney painter George Duncan (1904-1974); the man who would later become her second husband. Rehfischs first solo exhibition was held at Macquarie Galleries the following November, with an opening speech by her friend and mentor, Margaret Preston (1875-1963).2 Rehfisch would depart Australia at the end of that year to study at Londons Grosvenor School of Modern Art under the tutelage of Iain Macnab (1890-1967), the pioneering Scottish painter and printmaker.

Lemon and Grey reveals an artist already well versed in the principles of modernist still-life painting. Rehfisch maintains a muted palette in complementary tones of pink and green, yellow and mauve. Natural elements are expertly contained by a cluster of vessels in earthenware and glass, throwing dense shadows onto the adjacent walls and tabletop. The diamond-like shape of the central composition is repeated in the black-and-white tiling of the upper right. It is an image marked by its composure and coolness, a vision of domesticity untouched by the chaos of modern life.

1. Art Exhibitions. Mrs. Rehfisch and Mr. Duncan, The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 21 April 1933, p.7
2. Power, R., Alison Rehfisch: A Life for Art, The Beagle Press, Sydney, 2002, p.57

Catherine Baxendale

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