New Order 28 Part II (1963) is from a group of works that Pat Hanly created in the period immediately following his return from five years working in London, Amsterdam and Florence. When he returned, he was sceptical about staying in New Zealand, and intended rather to work in Australia, but he was surprised to find a very energetic and supportive environment in Auckland “and a group of artists who showed total commitment”; and so he stayed.
Pat Hanly was born in Palmerston North in 1932 and died in Auckland in 2004 after a long illness. He was taught by Allan Leary in Palmerston North; by Bill Sutton in Christchurch, when in 1952 he began a three-year Diploma of Fine Arts course at Canterbury University School of Fine Arts; and then in 1957 he travelled to London, where he attended night classes at Chelsea School of Art. Following his return to New Zealand in 1962 he became one of the major figures of, and contributors to, New Zealand’s growing contemporary art scene.
1962 also brought a shift in his aesthetic language. Describing the first major body of work to emerge at that time as somewhat “therapeutic”, the artist noted in 1979 that the “New Order was trying to talk about the roughness of New Zealand, its newness and crispness and those physical things. I hadn't, until that time, been an abstract or expressionist painter. Having resisted that in Europe, I thought it was the only way to really try and talk about this place.”
The painting’s broad, rough markings and sharp curvilinear accents; and bold colours and tones - black, blue, ochre, white and red – suggest Auckland’s clay and sandy beaches, coastal clouds, summer’s deep shadows and the vibrancy of the edge of the Pacific. The plump bottom-like forms in New Order 28 Part II also pre-figure elements of the artist’s next series – Figures in Light – in which he became fascinated with the visual intensity of figures in sunlight sitting and lying in the sun on the beaches. With the view of an expatriate, he was sharply critical of the social implications of a “nation sitting around on its bum doing nothing.” New Order 28 Part II is clearly on the cusp of that moment when Hanly is finishing with adjusting to life back in New Zealand and now has something potent to say about it.
Patrick Hanly, New Order 28 Part II, oil on board 980 x 855, signed & dated 1963
Essay commissioned by International Art Centre, Parnell, Auckland, NZ; and published in Selected works from the Fletcher Trust Collection, 10 September 2014 (August 2014).