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109571 Noel Counihan: Mexican Girl

The Artist

According to the Occula website, Noel Counihan was a social realist artist and advocate for political and social justice whose paintings revealed the social conditions and predicament of working people.

Counihan studied at the National Gallery of Victoria School (1929) and mixed with left-wing artists groups in Melbourne. In the 1930s he gained a national profile as a freelance illustrator and political activist and member of the Young Communist League and the Contemporary Art Society of Australia (1938). While hospitalised with tuberculosis in 1941 he was tutored in painting by immigrant artist, Josl Bergner, developing expressive and dramatic narrative works that expressed a universal concern for social equality, for example his paintings of Second World War soldiers are not identified by title or country.

Counihan travelled extensively in Europe from the late 1940s. In 1949 he was a delegate at the Paris World Peace Congress and in 1956 visited Moscow, meeting young artists and criticising academic realist painting. In 1973 a retrospective of his work from the National Gallery of Australia established his reputation as one of Australia’s most important political artists. Counihan is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and most state galleries.

Noel Counihan Mexican Girl

The Work of Art

The work of art, Mexican Girl , is a very striking work of art in black and white. Some what characertised, the picture portrays something of the latin character whilst at the same time following post modern traditions such as Matisse. The work of art itself is a limited edition print number  92 of 102 and was published in 1970. Although this work is the only Noel Counihan work in the University's Art Collection it is one of a number of works in the collection that focuses on portraits. It is interesting to compare and contrast this work with Charles Blackman's Girl with Plaits.



Bernard Smith, Australian Dictionary of Biography,