CASS - A Painting by Rita Angus
Rita Angus’s 1936 painting ‘Cass’ is one of New Zealand’s best-loved works of art. Many of the 1,350 stations that once dotted New Zealand’s rail network were just small weatherboard sheds like this one. Cass was a breakthrough work for Rita Angus. Crisp, bright, and rhythmic, it shows her distinctive style. Angus planned Cass very carefully. The diagonal lines of the hills, for example, contrast with the verticals and horizontals of the buildings, power poles, and stacked wood in the foreground. Everything is sharp and clear, and the painting glows with colour. For Angus, Cass had a deeply personal significance. It ‘expresses joy in living here,’ she wrote. Clearly a lot of people have since agreed. In 2006, Cass was voted New Zealand’s greatest painting in a television poll.
As a Kiwi, I view this work as an icon of where I was bought up - the South Island of New Zealand or Te Waipounamu o Te Ika a Maui.