Arthur Dagley spent his life in Tauranga, New Zealand, a city on the Bay of Plenty of the North Island of New Zealand. He took some classes in art and had some tutoring, but is mostly considered to be self-taught.
Much of his art is based on the sights of Tauranga, in paintings of landscapes and the ships in the harbor.
Portraits and figurative narratives formed another important part of Arthur Dagley’s practice. He was not a portrait painter in the traditional sense. His were ‘character portraits’, not depicting specific individuals but rather types of characters he had observed. Many of these works distort scale and space in order to evoke a sense of the subject’s character and illustrate Dagley’s commentary on the scene.
His people paintings are not realistic but some are very evocative, and mostly seem to feature only heads and sometimes upper torsos. The subjects appear to be stoic, people who are enduring. I also feel that I am intruding on the subjects; my viewing is not only not necessary but not particularly welcome. What is the visual equivalent of eavesdropping?
The more I look at Dagley’s paintings the more I am drawn in; and a couple of his paintings are just plain funny (the couple laughing at what are clearly examples of the artist’s work, and the ladies ready to hit the sales).