Rita Angus was born in Hastings in 1908. She attended the School of Fine Arts, UC from 1927 to 1932. Her influence was considerable though she only received the recognition she richly deserved in her later life. Her drawing skills were highly developed and her command of watercolour and oil paint total. She was unrivalled as a portraitist.
Angus acted as a bridge between the 1930s and the 1960s in preserving the regionalist style, which is a die-hard traditionalist movement, fighting against cubist/suprematist/surrealist innovations. Although she painted only one abstract in her life, Angus had a modernist attitude to her landscape and portrait work. The composition of her 55 portraits shows her interest in renaissance painters and charts her progress through life.
Looking at her work today, it is hard to believe that originally it was seen by the general public as incomprehensibly modern. Her best work of the 1960s adopted a gentle version of the earliest landscapes by the cubists, but instead of the parched colour and scrubby brushwork of these works, hers were rich in colour and painted with exquisite care.