Gow Langsford Gallery is pleased to present our first solo exhibition of works by the late Dame Louise Henderson (1902-1994). Henderson was a pioneer of abstraction in New Zealand and one of few female career painters of her generation. Her prodigious and influential career left a remarkable body of work now held in all major public collections in Aotearoa.
Unlike many European emigrees who felt stifled by New Zealand’s lack of cultural vibrancy, Henderson felt liberated when she moved from Paris to Christchurch as a new bride in the 1920s. Free from the limitations and the restrictions she felt as a young woman in Paris, here she was able to paint freely and explore her new environment in colour and form. Cultivated by her European experience and engaged in her immediate surroundings, her works were simultaneously both local and international. Over the next six decades she would become known particularly for her cubist and pictorial modernist works and she is remembered for adding greatly to the intellectual life of the circles in which she moved.
For much of her life society did not regard her work with the same seriousness her male colleagues received. Thankfully this attitude belongs to that time, and she finally enjoyed the attention of the artworld later in life when she was publicly honoured for her contribution to our cultural narrative. More recently Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū co-curated the large retrospective exhibition From Life (2019-2020).
Her legacy lives on both in her works and in an award established by her Estate to financially support the work of a New Zealand artist. As a teacher and mentor her family feels this is the best way to fittingly honour and continue her contribution to art in New Zealand. Details of the fund will be formally announced later this year.