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Harald NORITIS (b.1928) - BROADBEACH

Harald NORITIS (b.1928)

Harald Noritis was born in Riga, Latvia in 1927. After studying at the State Institute of Technology, Noritis moved to Germany for a year. Then, when the war broke out, he travelled extensively across Europe from 1945 to 1951. *

Noritis immigrated to Australia in 1951. He settled in Sydney where he studied illustration and painting at the National Art School, East Sydney Technical College until 1954. He then worked part-time in a teaching position between 1954 and 1955. In 1958, Noritis set up a graphic design company producing art for advertising. **

Noritis studied painting at the John Ogburn Art Studio in Sydney from 1964 to 1966. * In 1966, he formed Central Street Gallery with John White and Tony McGillick*, where he was a Director and benefactor for five years. Central Street Gallery was instrumental in providing space, materials and promotional support to artists the founders thought worthy of exposure, inspired by contemporary, avant-garde influences working in the modernist and minimalist styles.

Noritis has given significant amounts of his time to various art organisations. He was secretary of the Contemporary Art Society from 1971 to 1973. He was a member, and then Chairman, of the Institute of Contemporary Art, from 1973 to 1989. In 1975, he was a founding member of the Australian Latvian Artists Association. He was also NSW Secretary of the Australian Commercial and Advertising Artists Association from 1975 to 1983. Noritis moved to Broadbeach, Queensland, in 1987. **

Noritis participated in Central Street Gallery’s Black and White exhibition in 1967 and 21st Exhibition in 1968. His first solo exhibition was also held at Central Street Gallery in 1968 *** concurrently with the controversial inaugural exhibition at The National Gallery of Victoria’s new premises, The Field, where one of Noritis’ minimalist paintings, Come away, was featured. * Noritis exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions at Central Street Gallery throughout 1969 and 1970. In 1969, Noritis’ work was included in the International Young Artists Exhibition in Tokyo and his work was also included in the 32nd Contemporary Art Society exhibition in 1970. *** More recently, Noritis was represented in Central Street Live held at Penrith Regional Gallery and Macquarie University Art Gallery in 2003 * and in Slot in 2008, Sixties Explosion in 2012 and Into Abstraction in 2016, all at the Macquarie University Art Gallery and he has exhibited in Canada.

Geometric-abstract, colour-form and hard-edge styles form the basis of Noritis’s gentle abstractions. * Come away, his painting exhibited in The Field, features organic shapes and cool colours drawn from nature described as a “simple organic switch of figure and ground”. **** After visiting the Brisbane Water National Park in Sydney, Noritis created a series of minimalist paintings based on his experience of the natural landscape. The luminous quality of the painting was achieved by using a stain painting technique, where multiple layers of thinned acrylic paint are applied on raw canvas, laid flat on the ground. His working method remains the same to this day * and the cool colours and organic shapes of his early work can also be seen in his more current work.

Art Critics and artists alike have described Noritis as a progressive force in Australia during the 1960s, with critic James Gleeson heralding him “as one of the most gifted of our hard-edge abstractionists”. ***** Even art critic, Donald Brook, who was very critical of the Central Street artists, calling their claim to redefine the boundaries of art as “perfectly preposterous” could see that “what [Tony McGillick, Harald Noritis and Gunther Christmann] are doing as a group is nevertheless important: they are taking art seriously. They are looking and thinking and arguing and working in a context that is as big as the world”. ******

Noritis’s works are held in Collections across Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, as well as significant private Collections throughout Australia and in Canada.

* Harald Noritis, The Field Revisited Artwork Labels pp 38 and 121, The National Gallery of Victoria, 2018 ** Harald Noritis, Linked in profile, viewed 2 November 2022 *** Harald Noritis, Biography, Design & Art Australia Online, updated 17 February 2019 **** Cool abstraction, Donald Brook, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 May 1968, p.9 ***** Rare painting donation causes much excitement, This Week, Macquarie University Art Gallery, 20 June 2016 ****** Mixed displays odd and stimulating, Donald Brook, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 1969, p.16


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