One of my earliest encounters with a work by Dorothy Braund was in a gallery in Melbourne when an oil painting of an energetic child in a high chair searching for an unknown fallen object that had fallen from its grasp to the floor. The picture was called Perpendicular with Curves and the child had struck a momentary pose that I had witnessed many times before with my own children – the contorted position of a yoga expert that only (without training) an infant can achieve.
I couldn’t help but be captured by the artist’s observation, sense of fun and ability to paint the subject in a manner that struck a chord with me.
Narrative cubism may be a good description of Dorothy Braund’s style yet it’s doubtful that she would like to be categorised – but then it may not bother her at all, as all of her painting life she has been pre occupied with the aesthetic, rather than the opinion of others around her.
Following the introduction to her work and with minimum fuss an exhibition of her paintings in gouache was organised for 1997 in our old Nedlands gallery. The show was moderately successful to start with all the works selling over the following 12 months – some old through auction and others off the gallery wall with works often fetching higher price at auction than they were priced at exhibition. But that regularly happens when numerous people show interest.
Subsequent to the showing a cylinder without a return address was mailed to the gallery. The container had been addressed to me by goodness knows whom and my immediate thought was more advertising material as this was a ploy in common use at the time. So the tube was left aside for a while before it was opened.
Upon opening and to my surprise, rather than the promotional advice I was expecting , carefully rolled and doubly wrapped in tissue paper was an exquisite little still life in gouache by Dorothy Braund. There was an inscription on the reverse of the picture that said in part – “you did a good job and that you for your efforts.” It was Dorothy’s way of expressing her gratitude for holding the exhibition in Western Australia and introducing her work to a new and appreciative audience. There were no superlatives or unnecessary compliments just that brief inscription. The little picture with others by her is still in my collection today.
Dorothy Braund works in a manner similar to that inscription. She eliminates the non essential and is able to get the message across in a telling and personal manner.
Fun runs, dinner parties, lovers embracing, families at play or rest, bikini girls and lifesavers, mothers and children, businessmen overweight or svelte, all have received her attention and been recorded in her distinctive style – no subject is taboo nor images of contemporary life ignored.
There is symmetry in her compositions and she has the extraordinary talent of making art that is appealing to people across all social groups and ages. The new can be just as enthralled by her work as the experienced and children can respond to her paintings as avidly as can grandparents and all generations between.
It has been 14 years since that first exhibition, though over the years many of her works have been sold through our rooms. Unfortunately Dorothy is no longer painting with any regularity and has entered into care. The guardians of her estate understanding her popularity and acceptance in the west allowed us to select a number of works from across the decades and bring them to you through this exhibition. It covers the period from the 1950’s to the 1990’s and includes many of her iconic themes in oil and gouache.
We at GFL are delighted to be involved again with the work of a unique and important artist who has an eye for essence and the ability to captivate all with her telling and elegant work.
EXHIBITION: 25th August 2011 until 6th September 2011
DOROTHY BRAUND: Born Melbourne 1926
STUDIES: National Gallery School Victoria 1945-49 under Alan Sumner; George Bell School 1949.
AWARDS: Albury Art Prize 1962; Colac Art Prize 1964; Bendigo Art Prize 1966; Muswellbrook Art Prize 1972.
REPRESENTED: National Gallery of Victoria; Art Gallery of South Australia; University of Western Australia; McClelland Gallery Langwarrin; Bendigo Art Gallery; Albury Art Gallery; Monash University Museum of Art; Queensland Art Gallery.
REFERENCE: Encyclopaedia of Australian Art, volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4; The George Bell School of Students Friends and Influences; Rennicks Australian Artists; Artists and Galleries of Australia; Artists and Galleries of Australia and New Zealand; Australian Watercolour Painters 1780-1980; Classical Modernism, The Bell Circle.