The Primitive Bird Group consists of two painters, Max Podstolski and Clare Reilly, who live in Christchurch, New Zealand. Their work has in common both bird symbolism and a 'primitivist' affinity. Not surprisingly birds appear frequently in each artist's work, amongst other subject matter such as Reilly's landscapes; but as each follows a uniquely individualized path their work could not look more dissimilar.
Reilly's detailed birds in landscapes realistically depict recognizable species, whereas Podstolski's non-specific motifs are spontaneous improvisations in abstract space, which may also suggest or intersect with human or animal figures. Their divergent forms of primitivism can be traced back to different formative influences of the early to mid-20th century: the 'naïve' naturalism of Le Douanier Rousseau, in Reilly's work, and the semi-abstract figuration of modernist primitivists such as Klee and the CoBrA Group, in Podstolski's.
Reilly and Podstolski have been painting together since 1975 and have previously exhibited jointly as well as separately, mainly in Christchurch and Wellington. They formed the Primitive Bird Group in late 2001 to symbolise their shared artistic passion and to generate synergy through having a common focus. The Primitive Bird Group's 'inaugural flight' was at the Left Bank Art Gallery, Greymouth, in April 2002.


Article by Barbara Garrie (2006)

Article by Christopher Moore (2004)

Review by Lloyd Harwood (2004)

Review by Wayne Lorimer (2003)

Review by Wayne Lorimer (2002)

Flight of the Primitive Bird Group (2003)

Article by Frances Adank (1992)