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Peter Stichbury, Barbara Robbins, Westall High, 2014, oil on linen, 23 1/2 × 19 3/4".

Peter Stichbury

Tracy Williams, Ltd.

Peter Stichbury, Barbara Robbins, Westall High, 2014, oil on linen, 23 1/2 × 19 3/4".

“In the afternoon of April 6, 1966, one of the most famous UFO cases in the world occurred over a school in Westall, Australia,” begins a passage on a handout that accompanied “Anatomy of a Phenomenon,” New Zealand painter Peter Stichbury’s recent exhibition. “Pupils and teachers were told not to talk about what they had seen, and the chemistry teacher, Barbara Robbins, who had taken photos with her camera, was forced by authorities to hand it over.” In Stichbury’s portrait of the woman, Ms. Robbins is depicted as an oval-faced blonde with haunted, wide-set eyes that suggest the persistence of a traumatic memory—and give her something of an otherworldly appearance. This particular look is a longtime signature of the artist’s, and in this exhibition, he explained it by asserting that those pictured were all “experiencers”—individuals who have supposedly had a close

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