Jan Nigro

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About Jan Nigro

Jan Nigro was born in Gisborne in 1920. She enrolled at Elam, School of Fine Arts, Auckland in 1937 and studied under Archie Fisher, John Weeks and Lois White. It was here that she met her future husband, the artist, Gerry (Angelo) Nigro. After the war they moved to Australia where Nigro became established as an Australian artist exhibiting in both Melbourne Victoria and Sydney New South Wales. On their return they settled in Rotorua where Nigro explored abstraction before returning to work with the figure. Later they moved to Auckland before settling on Waiheke Island for 25 years.

In 1996 Claire Finlayson wrote a thesis on Jan Nigro, and entitled it "Jan Nigro - Topographer of the Social". In it Finlayson discusses how in the first two and a half decades of the artist's career Nigro submitted the figure to a formal analysis and how since then she has "undertaken to examine the figure from a range of sexual, social, cultural and psychological perspectives".

The human figure has remained constant as the greatest and most lasting source of inspiration. She likes to build a strong rapport with models and likes to build themes around them. They are portraits only in the sense that we can often identify the sitter.

Nigro is an astute observer of human behaviour, succinctly appraising the world around her in her search to understand the figure. She is aware of the trends of her time and responds to the way society adapts to issues by delivering works that are innovative and unique.

She was awarded the MBE for Services to the Arts in 1993 and in 1996 published her autobiography "Apple for the Teacher" . During 2001-2002 "A Portrait of Jan Nigro", a survey of her work, toured to the National Portrait Gallery, Wellington and the Rotorua Museum of Art & History.