Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art brings together the work of Hans and Nora Heysen, father and daughter artists whose work spanned more than a century during which Australia and the world underwent numerous social, political and artistic transformations. In many ways, theirs is an archetypal twentieth-century Australian story of migration, family life, wartime separation and a deep connection to place. Both artists travelled in Europe and their work demonstrates both international influences and engagement with their Australian contemporaries. While Hans devoted his mature practice predominantly to the depiction of landscape, Nora became renowned as a portraitist and painter of still life.
Hans and Nora’s lifelong written correspondence offers rare insight into a mutually loving and supportive relationship, as well as into their working methods, inspirations and thoughts on the key artistic debates of their time. Their shared reverence for the natural world, manifested in Hans’s evocative landscapes and Nora’s vibrant flower paintings, strengthened their bond. In 1936, Hans wrote to his daughter of what he perceived as the key to a fulfilling life and a source of sustenance in difficult times:
‘A great love for Nature – who will ever unfold all her secrets in any one of our lives’.
Reviewed 02 May 2019