Cover image of the review
Narjis Mirza, Hayakal al Noor, Bodies of Light 2021, Blackbox Theater, AUT, Auckland. Photo: Stephan Marks

Sidney Nolan and Narjis Mirza

2 Apr 2022
Sidney Nolan: Search for Paradise, Heide Museum of Modern Art 19 Feb - 13 Jun 2022 Narjis Mirza: Hayakal al Noor, Bodies of Light, Islamic Museum of Australia 24 Mar - 9 Jul 2022

Sidney Nolan: Search for Paradise, currently on at Heide, begins with a magnificent suite of paintings. Towards the left corner of the long opening wall are Nolan’s Woman and Tree and Garden of Eden, both from 1941. They’re clumsy, heavy-handed, said to be influenced by Nolan seeing the work of Georges Rouault reproduced in Art in Australia earlier that year and look like works the great New Zealand painter Colin McCahon was making around the same time.

In Woman and Tree, we see Eve go towards an apple tree, with thick banded snake at the bottom, the horizon a squared-off Cézannian thing and a crescent moon high above echoed in its pale reflection down below and the smooth curves of Eve’s hair, hips and legs. In Garden of Eden, an angel stands arms raised in a field of flowers, this time against a burning sun, casting Adam and Eve out after Adam succumbed to the sweet apple that Eve offered, and he was unable to resist.

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