Artist in progress

Emerging Gisborne artist Virginia Pahuru's bright and bold works.

Emerging Gisborne artist Virginia Pahuru's bright and bold works.

Encouraged by her grandmother to paint, sight-impaired Virginia Pahuru works with bright, bold colours. Picture by Paul Rickard

Two styles of painting are evident in emerging Gisborne artist Virginia Pahura’s work. With its blocks of bold colour one style is almost poster like.

The other is more impressionistic and explores in bright, sometimes lurid colours the play of light on water and wet streets.

Pahura’s main influence is the work of Russian–Israeli impressionistic artist Leonid Afremov. Afremov works mostly with a palette knife and oils, and paints landscape, city scenes, seascapes, flowers and portraits.

Rather than a palette knife Pahuru prefers a flat brush to create blocks of colour, or daubs. What her two styles have in common is the fearless use of colour, mostly bright with dark contrasts.

The reason for this is that Virginia is sight impaired.

While exploring her talent, and developing her confidence, Pahuru paints mostly from photographs. Among her works on show at Zest cafe are paintings of lion faces, and a girl playing guitar. Two paintings that show greater command of her medium do not feature in the exhibition. One is based on a photograph of her great great grandmother. The other is of her grandmother and grandfather on their wedding day.

As is common in old photographs, Pahuru’s ancestor is expressionless, presumably because a sitter could not sustain a smile for the time it took for an image to coalesce on the glass plate.

There is another reason for her austere expression, says Pahuru’s grandmother Flo.

“She was a very powerful woman. Her father was a chief so she became chief of our iwi Whanau a Apanui. She had a lot to live up to so you didn’t often see the smiley-smiley portrait, She had an image to uphold.”

Pahuru has softened her great great grandmother’s features and koru forms swirling in the background enhance the work’s emotional content.

“I tried to make her more gentle in my painting,” says Pahuru.

“I never studied Maori art. I was intimidated by it because there’s a lot of meaning in it. But when I applied the colour I could see this design in there. It was almost intuitive.”

When Pahuru’s grandfather asked her to paint a portrait, he pointed at a wedding photo of himself with her grandmother.

“I painted what I could see in the picture,” says Pahuru.

“That’s why there are no eyes. The colours help me give it a feeling. I wanted to get across the feeling my grandfather is happy. If you put in the right colours you can portray the feeling you get.”

Two styles of painting are evident in emerging Gisborne artist Virginia Pahura’s work. With its blocks of bold colour one style is almost poster like.

The other is more impressionistic and explores in bright, sometimes lurid colours the play of light on water and wet streets.

Pahura’s main influence is the work of Russian–Israeli impressionistic artist Leonid Afremov. Afremov works mostly with a palette knife and oils, and paints landscape, city scenes, seascapes, flowers and portraits.

Rather than a palette knife Pahuru prefers a flat brush to create blocks of colour, or daubs. What her two styles have in common is the fearless use of colour, mostly bright with dark contrasts.

The reason for this is that Virginia is sight impaired.

While exploring her talent, and developing her confidence, Pahuru paints mostly from photographs. Among her works on show at Zest cafe are paintings of lion faces, and a girl playing guitar. Two paintings that show greater command of her medium do not feature in the exhibition. One is based on a photograph of her great great grandmother. The other is of her grandmother and grandfather on their wedding day.

As is common in old photographs, Pahuru’s ancestor is expressionless, presumably because a sitter could not sustain a smile for the time it took for an image to coalesce on the glass plate.

There is another reason for her austere expression, says Pahuru’s grandmother Flo.

“She was a very powerful woman. Her father was a chief so she became chief of our iwi Whanau a Apanui. She had a lot to live up to so you didn’t often see the smiley-smiley portrait, She had an image to uphold.”

Pahuru has softened her great great grandmother’s features and koru forms swirling in the background enhance the work’s emotional content.

“I tried to make her more gentle in my painting,” says Pahuru.

“I never studied Maori art. I was intimidated by it because there’s a lot of meaning in it. But when I applied the colour I could see this design in there. It was almost intuitive.”

When Pahuru’s grandfather asked her to paint a portrait, he pointed at a wedding photo of himself with her grandmother.

“I painted what I could see in the picture,” says Pahuru.

“That’s why there are no eyes. The colours help me give it a feeling. I wanted to get across the feeling my grandfather is happy. If you put in the right colours you can portray the feeling you get.”

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