Alison Rehfisch

Born in 1900 in Sydney, studied at Julian Ashton School of Art and Grosvenor School of Modern Art, London. Died 1975.

Rehfisch was born in 1900 in Sydney. She studied at Redlands in Cremorne where she studied art under artist Albert Collins. In 1916 she enrolled in the Julian Ashton School of Art but she stopped her studies to marry Rodney Eschenburg Rehfisch in 1919 and in 1920 she gave birth to a daughter. In 1922 she began art classes again under Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo; it is here she met George Duncan. Following a move to Neutral Bay in 1929, Rehfisch shared a studio with George Duncan and Dora Jarret. Later this year she had her first group exhibition, won the Royal Art Society Prize for Still Life and started to hold a sketch club in a new studio with Duncan. In 1931 Rehfisch started exhibiting with the Society of Artists. After her separation with her husband, Rehfisch moved in to a studio-apartment with George Duncan and they lived and worked with other artists such as Rah Fizelle, Dorrit Black and Thea Proctor. In 1933 Rehfisch left for England, a few months after Duncan where she studied under Iain Macnab at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, London; the influence of his teachings are reflected in her stylized compositions. In 1935 Rehfisch left London to travel and paint in Spain for a year living in Seville and Malaga and also travelling to France and Germany. In 1939, she returned to Sydney following the death of her estranged husband and lived in Edgecliff with her daughter. She began to exhibit with the contemporary group, a group herself and Duncan would become significant organizing members of. In 1942 Rehfisch and Duncan married, they had a modern and egalitarian relationship, and continued to exhibit together. In 1947 a fire destroyed their studio on George Street and Refisch lost about two hundred paintings. Fellow artists held an auction at Desiderius Orban’s studio to help raise funds. The couple moved out to the country and began to paint the landscapes, which marked a change in Refisch’s style. After returning to Sydney in 1951they continued to exhibit and in 1958 travelled to Europe, a trip which was cut short when Rehfisch fell ill. In 1960 she took over art classes for 12 months at Joy Ewart’s studio in Chatswood. Rehfisch painted still lifes, landscapes and figurative works; her most popular works were her flower paintings, she used thinly applied colour and balanced composition to reinforce her principles of simplicity and design being the basis of modern art. In 1966 George Duncan fell ill and Refisch nursed him until his death in 1974. Suffering with loss of eyesight and devastated over the loss of her husband, she took her own life in 1975.