Judy Millar

Review: by Andrew Paul Wood

If Millar ever ventures into a palette of silver, grey and faded rose, it would not shock me in the least.

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Review: by Hamish Coney

Most encounters with Millar’s paintings over the last decade have asked the viewer to step back a few paces to comprehend dramatic gesture at much larger than life size. These small studies invite a completely different mode of observation: up close and personal.

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Catalogue – Studies in Place

40 page catalogue published to coincide with the exhibition Studies in Place: Works on Paper 1989 & 2017  Gow Langsford Gallery ISBN: 978-0-9941276-2-4

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About: Judy Millar

Her work looks outwards rather than in, participating in a global conversation about the relationship that painting has with the real world.

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Review: My Body Pressed

By Tracey Clement for Art Guide.

Essay by Jodie Dalgleish.

Her work not only activates space but also allows the kind of ‘space creation’ current in philosophy, cultural geography and advanced architectural research.

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Call Me Snake

Reverse Cinema

Falling in love – an intellectual experiment.

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Press Release Galerie Mark Mueller

Press release for a solo exhibition at Galerie Mark Mueller. 2014.

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Essay by Rosemary Hawker.

In response to Judy Millars Be Do Be Do Be Do Solo exhibition at the IMA Brisbane. 2013.

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Red Red Orange

What first comes to mind here are ideas about how painting engages with the emotions.

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The Rainbow Loop Collectors Edition

This Collector´s Edition consists of 80 exemplars, each one comprising an original work.

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Robert Leonard Interview

Robert Leonard talks to Judy Millar. The interview discusses her work in Personal Structures, Venice, 2010.

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Judy is one of the more interesting characters on our art scene. Or, not on our art scene.

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Review: A Better Life

Große Leinwandbahnen, die mit Millars malerischen Zeichen bedruckt sind, fließen durch die Galerie.

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Essay by Morgan Thomas for Art and Australia. Vol 47. Spring. 2009.

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Review: by Hamish Coney

Without the shock and awe of leviathan size these works must be on point. And they are.


Catalogue – Studies in Place

Catalogue published to coincide with the exhibition

Studies in Place: Works on Paper 1989 & 2017


 Available from Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

“The first ‘coast works’ in their primary saturations have remained unseen by anyone else since the late 1980s. They have been harshly edited over the years with many being burnt. Those remaining seem now to be a nucleus of thoughts and responses that have emerged decades later.”

About: Judy Millar

Judy Millar – One of New Zealand’s most daring and cerebral artists.

By Mary-Louise Browne.

Judy Millar is considered by many to be a formalist in that her work addresses itself to painting, the perceived problems of painting and issues surrounding the history of painting. At the same time, as she talks about the vitality and ‘eye-searing magic’ of painting, she brings to her work a theoretical and practical interest as to where she fits in the male-dominated tradition of painting as a woman artist in the 21st century. As one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognised artists, she makes explicit the engagement of her painting with the rest of the world.

Her work looks outwards rather than in, participating in a global conversation about the relationship that painting has with the real world it both seeks to represent and be a part of.

She works from within a conceptual painting framework, freely referencing painting’s modern developments and relishing in appropriating the expressiveness of gestural painting. Continuing to explore possibilities in the action-painting tradition, she uses gesture not as personal expression but as a basis of social exchange. A sense of performative drama and delight in the act of mark-making is evident in this painting. The physicality of the gesture in Millar’s work is reminiscent of that of Jackson Pollock and she regards the direct relationship of the body to the canvas as extremely important. Also, painting for Millar is fundamentally a process of unpainting; perversely, her artworks are unworked rather than worked up – she takes away as much as she adds. Utilising processes of erasure, wiping or scraping paint off the surface of the work, Millar assumes established sociological and cultural positions only to question and deconstruct their meanings. She challenges the viewer’s expectation of the ‘expressive gesture’ and of the effectiveness of painting as a contemporary means of communication.

The physicality of the gesture in Millar’s work is reminiscent of that of Jackson Pollock and she regards the direct relationship of the body to the canvas as extremely important.

She has said of her practice: “It’s ‘embodied painting’. Without our body we don’t exist, so that seems to me to be our experience of the world. And that is what painting can directly address”¹

Millar’s painting may be perceived as abstract but she has long been interested in the depiction of three-dimensional space and the sense of scale. She is willing to take the abstract out of abstraction and to infuse her paintings with a sense of three-dimensionality. Her distinctive brush strokes are overlaid with sweeps of paint that flow and halt and turn in all directions to create richly suggestive forms. The large, painted surface of this work has a rich luminosity; it catches the light and gleams. Untitled playfully presents itself with the grandeur of her vision: a bold exploration of the colours blue and purple suggesting monumentality and materiality. Millar is acutely aware of this dramatic effect, noting that: “The joy and charm of painting for me is the illusion and virtual space it sets up… a completely dismantled kind of shimmering, hovering one”². Mary-Louise Browne – 2018

¹ Millar is quoted by Virginia Were, Art News, Autumn 2009, prior to her participation in the 2009 Venice Biennale.  ² Millar is quoted by curator Justin Paton in I is she as you to me, 2003.

Review: by Andrew Paul Wood

Three Judy Millar Paintings

Review of Welcome to the Fluorescence
Solo exhibition at Nadene Milne Gallery, Christchurch. 2018.


A gesture cannot be regarded as the expression of an individual, as his [sic] creation (because no individual is capable of creating a fully original gesture, belonging to nobody else), nor can it even be regarded as that person’s instrument; on the contrary, it is gestures that use us as their instruments, as their bearers and incarnations.” – Milan Kundera, Immortality (1990)

Gesture’ and ‘gestural’ are vastly overused words in talking about abstract painting but remain unavoidable in talking about Judy Millar’s work. As Kundera intimates above, perhaps gestures perform us, rather than the other way around, memes proliferating like living things. Perhaps art is merely a long war to determine who is in charge. In Millar’s case, the resulting paintings are static and compressed records of the passage of time, modes of movement, the artist’s endurance, her physicality and physical limits—a record of metadata about the artist and the artistic act, its Benjaminian ‘aura of authenticity’. There is something profoundly human and humanist in this haecceity or ‘thisness’ of the artist, particularly the physical reality of the mark making in a world increasingly saturated with digital media.

This is very much evident in her show Welcome to the Fluorescence at Nadene Milne Gallery in Christchurch. There are just three big paintings in the main gallery space—and that is precisely enough in equilibrium with the space. The titles, Energy TrapWaves Without ShapeA World Not of Things, are cautiously non-committal, setting up the audience with ambiguous hints at quantum mechanics and Zen ontology and letting them get on with the business of interacting with the work. The paintings activate each other. A World Not of Things might almost be toying with Chinese scroll painting—the palette and confident, but contained, calligraphic line—or a slightly Rococo interpretation thereof. The human tendency to pareidolia, finding order and shape where there is none, invokes everything from tangled tree branches and roots, to the Vatican’s Laocoön, but really it’s all about mind-mapping emotional and physical energy flows in moments of time.

Energy’ however, sounds like New Age handwavium. There is the physical energy of movement, of course, but might be better to call it thumos (θυμός)—passion, spiritedness, the internal urge for recognition, righteous rage against the injustices of the world, that which motivates human beings to exist. Peter Sloterdijk in his 2006 Rage and Time suggests that a productive, resentment-free form of ‘rage’ (which he, perhaps incorrectly, equates with thumos) is the primary motivating force of human social development, which Christian morality and psychoanalysis have attempted to supress (some might also include the contemporary politics of social discourse). This leads us to Mannerism.

Millar consciously aligns herself with the Mannerists, that oft maligned tendency in art that bridges the High Renaissance and the Baroque. The style is characterised by affected exaggeration and unnatural elegance in pursuit of effect. The standard art-historical view of how Mannerism came about tends to be that the followers of Michelangelo copied his dramatic and individual innovations, and their students copied them, and the resulting transcription errors resulted in flourishing mutations like Parmigianino’scameleopardine Madonna with the Long Neck (1534-40), the porcelain complexions of Bronzino’s Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time (ca.1544-45), and Pontormo’s boneless, gravity-defying Depozisione (1528).

This is, in fact, not a subtle aspect of Millar’s work. The calculatedly optical effects of her palette and what looks like airbrushing declare open allegiance with the taffeta-like gradated colours of Pontormo’s draperies and garments. The open-ended, asymmetrical and complex Hans Hofmann-esque push-pull, and weaving in and out, of the bravura strokes—swept, painted and scraped back with a number of tools, including a plastic bag full of sand—conjure up impressions of the compositions of Parmigiano, Bronzino and El Greco as filtered through a century of transcendental abstraction.

An alternate interpretation of Mannerism, re-assessed against the political, intellectual and social crises of the twentieth century, was put forward by Italian critic and art historian Achille Bonito Oliva in his book The Ideology of the Traitor: Art, Manner and Mannerism, first published in 1979. Oliva reframes Mannerism as a subversive stylistic armour, tinged with hopeless melancholy, against the chaos of war and religious schism when it seemed the ideals of the Renaissance had failed and fallen. The artist, particularly the gay artist without benefit of the social transcendence of classical idealism, was identified as a traitor against their broader community, so why not make something of it? Bonito Olivia has elsewhere drawn parallels with postmodernism, and Susan Sontag intuited as much in her ‘Notes on Camp.’

While I wouldn’t call Millar’s work ‘camp’ per se, she observes that we live in “Mannerist times” (Trump, orange and coiffed, being la Maniera par excellence). The bravura gesture, the outrageous fluorescent palette, the occasional insouciant hand or footprint (Millar works on the ground) cock a snook at a Western civilisation apparently intent on self-immolating itself with as much dignity as it can muster. At the same time Millar very deliberately aligns herself with the grand tradition, albeit on her own terms—as something quite daring when that might be considered a liability in this sensitive age.

The antipole to Millar’s mannerism would be the Rococo—an equally fitting style for the present era, when the 1% squandered their wealth and resources on superficiality and frivolity, a style which also prioritises sinuous line and asymmetry. Even then the artists were getting their own back in silent protest—the wistful melancholy of Watteau, the brittle fragility of Fragonard—and if Millar ever ventures into a palette of silver, grey and faded rose, it would not shock me in the least. – Andrew Paul Wood.

Original article here.

Review: My Body Pressed

Judy Millar: My Body Pressed

Review for Art Guide. April 6th, 2018.

Essay by Tracey Clement.

Painting is indexical; the marks on the canvas bear a direct relationship to the gestures of the artist. This is more overt in Pollock’s flung arcs of paint than in the minute daubings of a photorealist, but all paintings are a record of a body moving through space. The paintings in New Zealander Judy Millar’s solo show, My Body Pressed at Sullivan + Strumpf, have a particularly visceral quality.

In Millar’s new work, dark streaks writhe across washes of bruised blue and mauve.

Resembling tangled twists of muscle and tendons, Millar’s dynamic swathes of black seem to move at speed. “Like dance, painting is a direct record of the energy and feeling of a lived-in body,” says Millar, “and my work accentuates this.” Indeed, looking at her paintings is like witnessing the ghostly trace of the artist’s frenetic performance.

In this way, Millar’s abstract canvases are a kind of self-portraiture, but her work sidesteps objectification of the female body, a perennial trope in the Western canon. “Since the movements and actions of my body are stamped all over the canvas my work can be seen to be a picturing of the female body,” she explains. “But of course I’m not working with the body as an object. Rather I take the body as a process, something that can’t be contained. I want the work to be sexy in a fluid way.”

Millar’s title, My Body Pressed, expresses her concern that we are becoming disconnected from our bodies. “The increasingly mediated world we inhabit seems to be pulling our minds and bodies further apart all the time,” she says.

“I worry that our bodily world is disappearing, our bodily intelligence ignored. The title is a rallying cry to bodily communication: to the wonder of touch and sinew.”

Full article here.

Essay by Jodie Dalgleish.

The Sinew of Space

An essay by Jodie Dalgleish for Contemporary Hum on Judy Millar’s 2017 exhibition “Swallowed in Space” at Galerie Mark Mueller, Zurich.

The Sinew of Space

It’s frustrating to her, Judy Millar tells me from the West Coast of Auckland as we discuss her exhibition in Zurich, Swallowed in Space, that people are so rarely asking ‘what does painting do to us?’. An affective painting, after all, is something we want to go and see, and revisit, and make part of our wider experience. I wholeheartedly agree with her, especially after having just travelled to see her work (from my current home in Luxembourg) and encountering the way it not only activates space but also allows the kind of ‘space creation’ current in philosophy, cultural geography and advanced architectural research.

Engrossed in the exhibition’s spatial effect, I begin to realise that I am naturally embodying the paintings’ own quest for, and questioning of, modes of movement. Each painting is an intense material object based on movement, while it is also a container that circulates and throws me more broadly into an exploration of the space that emanates from it. ‘Space’ here, is a body-dwelt ‘imaginal’ field. It is the field projected from the body into a ‘spacious view’ of the ‘increasing inclusiveness’ of its expanding boundaries, as philosopher Edward Casey writes of place that has become more spacious in Western thought. In this kind of space, Casey writes, ‘expanding envelopments’ are all linked by the organic body and its history in the ‘fuller compass’ of what is happening, and at stake, in and from a particular place.

Essential to my experience, is the fact that each painting’s sinuous forms continue in striated bands that curve, twist, turn and loop seemingly without end. As I follow them, they always release their coiled directions onwards, even if only through a series of drips, a finger drag or the suggestion of an aspirating colour. They are not brushstrokes, but rather a skilfully indeterminate ‘caricature,’ or parody, of such a singular gesture. Their banding is almost collographic in nature: a result of the artist’s characteristic mark making that accumulates the positive and negative impressions of paint in the push and drag of objects across the painting’s surface. ‘I was trying to think of something like a very big fingertip,’ the artist tells me as she describes the way in which she slid differently-sized bags filled with sand through the paint. They allowed complex forms of movement, she explains, ‘and they have this particular feeling.’ For me, their form is fibrous, elemental and constant, like bands of tendon, muscle fibres, the phloem tissue of bark, and the cellulose cordage of plants. They seem to hold painting and movement together. – Excerpt from the article written by Jodie Dalgleish.

View original publication.

Call Me Snake

New Intimacies: Call Me Snake

A sculptural commission for SCAPE 8. Christchurch.

30th October – 15th November 2015

Call Me Snake, a temporary sculpture commissioned as part of Christchurch’s Scape Public Art initiative, SCAPE 8.

Made from steel, plywood and digital print.

Millar is best known for her large-scale digitally printed and painted canvases, which loop and undulate through architectural spaces, exploring ideas of scale, and the compression of time and space. Her work for SCAPE 8 New Intimacies, Call me Snake, pushes these ideas beyond the enclosed architectural spaces she has previously worked with, into the Central Christchurch landscape.

Full article here.

Reverse Cinema

Reverse Cinema

Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney, Australia.

29 May – 26 June 2015


Excerpt from i-D Interview.

In the past decade, acclaimed New Zealand artist Judy Millar‘s varied work has filled a German gallery with Technicolor tidal waves and unspooled wild brushstrokes across the walls of a Renaissance church for the 53rd Venice Biennale. Always a fan of an enveloping spectacle, her latest show Reverse Cinema at Sydney’s Sullivan + Strumpf draws on painting, sculpture, and light projections to create an installation that’s both soulful and cerebral. With the show involving her most audacious work yet, i-D chatted with the artist about her allergy to categories, falling in love as an intellectual experiment, and why she dreads public art.

Read the full article by Neha Kale for i-D. Or download here.

i-D Interview PDF download

Press Release Galerie Mark Mueller


A solo show of  Judy Millar at Galerie Mark Mueller, Zurich, Switzerland.

11 October – 15 November 2014

Press Release by Pascal Marchev.

Judy Millar: Paintings

Nachdem Judy Millar in den vergangenen Jahren ihren Gestus auf unterschiedliche Weise zu analysieren und hinterfragen versuchte, indem sie eigene Bilder beispielsweise digital bis zur Verpixelung vergrösserte und mit Siebdruck in die Leinwand-Arbeiten miteinbezog, kehrt sie in ihrer 5. Einzelausstellung in der Galerie Mark Müller, wie der Ausstellungstitel bereits erahnen lässt, zurück zur Malerei in ihrer reinen Form.

Ihre Bewegungen, mit denen sie unter direktem Einsatz ihres Körpers die auf dem Boden liegenden Leinwände mit Farbe bedeckt und verwischt, werden durch eine symbiotische Verbindung von Körper und Geist geleitet, welche sich gegenseitig beeinflussen. Intuitiv setzt sie Bilder aus ihrem Innern in eine Malbewegung um. So sind ihre Arbeiten auch nur auf den ersten Blick fern jeglicher Gegenstandslosigkeit. Im Gegenteil, sie versucht bewusst die Wahrnehmung des Betrachters herauszufordern und geht dabei einer der grossen Fragen des Menschen nach: Ist die Welt, die ich erlebe dieselbe, die jemand anders erlebt? So spielen auch die Titel der mittelformatigen Leinwandarbeiten „Flicker Rate“ auf die Theorie an, dass sich die Welt zu jedem Moment in verschiedenen Zuständen befindet, ähnlich wie Schrödingers Katze zugleich lebendig wie auch tot ist. Wir als Betrachter nehmen durch ein ständiges Flimmern jedoch nur eine einzelne Realität wahr.

Mit unserer Wahrnehmung spielt auch die formale Zusammenstellung der Arbeiten, welche alle in diesem Jahr entstanden. In farblich zusammengehörigen Gruppen gehängt, innerhalb derer jedoch Grösse und Medium variiert, werden die Grenzen zwischen den einzelnen Arbeiten aufgelöst. Es scheint, als betrachte man dasselbe Bild in unterschiedlichen Zoom-Stufen. Man wird eingesaugt und wieder abgestossen von den fraktal-artigen Formen, die so typisch sind für Millars Technik. Das was sie also mit dem digitalen Aufblasen ihrer Malerei vor zwei Jahren untersuchte, zeigt sich auf eine Art in den jetzigen Arbeiten erneut. Im Vergleich zu der zweidimensional wirkenden Siebdruck-Schicht, lassen uns jedoch die aktuellen Gemälde ein ganzes Universum entdecken, in welchem man als Betrachter in immer tiefer liegende Schichten eintaucht. Ein Universum, eingefroren in einem bestimmten Moment, erzeugt dabei einen spannungsgeladenen Widerspruch zu dem so dynamischen und zeitlich andauernden Malprozess, der jede Arbeit in der Entstehung voneinander trennt und eine direkte Verbindung ausschliesst.

Die Hängung innerhalb der beiden Räume der Galerie Mark Müller führt dieses „in and out“ – dieses Eintauchen von einer Arbeit in die nächste – noch weiter indem die erstaunlicherweise kleinste Leinwandarbeit wie ein Portal die zwei Räume verbindet. Sie lässt den Betrachter mühelos von einem Raum in den nächsten springen. Ein Wurmloch von einem Punkt des Universums zu einem anderen.

Essay download.

Essay by Rosemary Hawker.

Be Do Be Do Be Do

Judy Millar’s solo exhibition at the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) Brisbane.

8th June – 27th July 2013.

Every time I make a painting I’m dragging the whole history of painting with me. — Judy Millar

Judy Millar: Be Do Be Do Be Do

Auckland painter Judy Millar has been making ever bigger paintings. A few years back, she surprised and confounded her audience by enlarging her painterly gestures using a billboard printer—it seemed heretical. Was this painting proper or something else? In Be Do Be Do Be Do, she goes the other way, hand-painting monstrously enlarged half-tone dots on ribbons of bendy-ply, which are contorted into complex curves, creating a play between the Arp-like biomorphism of the painted imagery and the Serra-like architecture of the scrolling wood. One curly painting, sitting on its edge, barricades a gallery; one, mounted to the wall, is all fleshly folds and love handles; another hangs from the ceiling from a harness, unfurling, flaccid, across the floor, revealing its pink underside. Rosemary Hawker reads Millar’s project through Susan Stewart’s interest in the play between the miniature (the world within the world) and the gigantic (the world without world).

Rosemary Hawker publication by IMA Brisbane, Australia. Available here.


Red Red Orange

Red Red Orange

Solo exhibition at Bartley + Company, Wellington, New Zealand.

5th February – 1st March 2014.

The second solo exhibition of Judys work in the gallery. The title drawing attention to the role of colour in Millar’s work; hot, strong, joyful, fiery, wild colour.

Judy Millar 2013

Much has been written about the Millar gesture – its bold, expansive, assured form swirling across her chosen surface whether canvas, paper or vinyl or, as we have seen most notably in her Venice Biennale exhibitions in 2009 and 2011, taking painting off the wall and into sculptural form out into space and the world. However here in this exhibition of three large and one smaller painting, paint remains contained and the place of colour in her work is foregrounded.

It is this colour that we respond to emotionally or sensually in the first instance before the intellect steps up and engages, drawing us in to Millar’s underlying project – a sustained investigation of the issues and challenges of painting and its place today’s visual economy today.

Rather than the issues of representation and the tension between two and three-dimensional space that have more often been discussed in relation to Millar’s work, what first comes to mind here are ideas about how painting engages with the emotions.

Again history provides the springboard with Kandinsky and his colour theories and Rothko and the colour field painters of the mid 20th century providing the starting point to let us think both about how art makes us feel personally and how it operates in a way that is quite different to its antecedents.

Formal purity is not a concern of this 21st century abstraction, what is more relevant is a kind of subversive questioning of possibility and progress.

The Rainbow Loop Collectors Edition

The Rainbow Loop

Limited Edition Catalogue

Published by Kerber Verlag, Germany 2012

Rainbow Loop Collectors Edition

This Collector´s Edition consists of 80 exemplars, each one comprising an original work (acrylic on paper, 29.7 x 41.7 cm) by the artist and a fanfold publication, The Rainbow Loop.

Judy Millar’s works are distinguished by an intensive exploration of informal painting and Abstract Expressionism. The edition of original works is the result of individual, rolling processes that question interior and exterior, beginning and end. Each work of art is unique.

Available for Purchase.

Judy Millar 2012

 Judy Millar 2012

Robert Leonard Interview

Robert Leonard talks to Judy Millar

The interview discusses her work in Personal Structures, Venice 2011

Judy Millar 2011

Judy Millar: For this exhibition, I’ve been given a small room with two beautiful windows, which open out onto a canal. I’m making a twosided painting that forms a big springy strip. The room is about 6m long but the painting is 20m long. Since the painting is too big for the space, there’ll be a tussle. The painting will be forced to lift itself up into the air, go out of the window, and come back in. It’ll double back on itself and loop around. It’ll be delicate but cumbersome, a physical gesture in real space but also a bearer of illusionistic painterly space.

Robert Leonard: You’ve been blowing up “the brushstroke” for a while now.

JM: It started with Giraffe-Bottle-Gun, my 2009 Venice Biennale show. I made small paintings, then enlarged the imagery to ten times the size. I used a billboard printer—an advertising tool—to do it. I wanted the work to advertise itself. I wanted to amplify everything.

RL: But the new work is painted, right?

JM: The orange bits are painted but the black bits are printed. Both have been up-scaled, but to different degrees and in different ways. I’ve been developing big brushes with multiple heads so that I can make giant gestures. I’m trying to find a bigger dimension for myself.

RL: With the up-scaling and the use of printing, are you trying to denature or dehumanise the brushstroke?

JM: I’m not trying to dehumanise it, if anything I’m trying to rehuman ise it. I’m trying to give it more authority. Despite the absurd scale, you still read the work through your body.

RL: In this work, your painterly marks piggyback on a support that is itself akin to a painterly mark–a flourish.

JM: Exactly, it’s gesture in real space that carries other gestures on its surface. The illusionistic surface distorts your sense of the real physical form, and vice versa. By manipulating the support structure itself, I’m dismantling the usual image/support hierarchy.

RL: I’m reminded of the plastic toy-car track that I had as a child. I would bend it into curves and loops and send my cars careering down it. Your support will operate as a track for vision.

JM: The eye is forced to follow the track. I can control the eye; slow it down on the curves and speed it up on the flat. Space will turn into time, and time into space. What was behind will suddenly be in front, edges will become lines and lines will become edges— everything will be turned inside-out.

RL: Because they are so antithetical, I was reminded of Lynda Benglis’s paint pours from the late 1960s. She let paint fall from the can onto the floor, whereas your piece is perky, springy, alert. It isn’t paintdoing- what-comes-naturally.

JM: I’ve never been one of those materialists who think paint is more interesting in the can. For me, painting is not about paint, or even about paint on a support. For me, it is about structures: illusionistic structures, logical structures, worldly structures, all sorts of structures. I’m not interested in paint simply as a material.

RL: So why paint?

JM: I stay interested in painting: it’s a way of collapsing the separation of the mental and the bodily that I experience in so many other parts of life.

RL: So, you’re affirming rather than critiquing painting.

JM: I’m questioning and hopeful. I’m asking what can painting still say, and hopeful that it can still say something.



Robert Leonard is Director of the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.


Too Much Personality

A Day in New York with Judy Millar

From Gemma Gracewood’s blog Too Much Personality.

New York, 2010

Judy Millar at Moma

Image from uploadvr.com

Excerpt by Gemma Gracewood about a day spent with Judy.

Judy Millar’s MoMA artist’s pass is looking battered. “I’ve been at least twenty times since I got here,” she admits as we enter New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She pays for me – “I got my studio deposit back today. I feel rich.”

Judy is one of the more interesting characters on our art scene. Or, not on our art scene. She flies under the radar by living way out west of Auckland, yet she exhibits all over the world and keeps a studio in Berlin.

One of New Zealand’s foremost painters, Judy was one of our gals at the 2009 Venice Biennale. (For NZ folk, her Giraffe-Bottle-Gun work has been remounted at Te Papa for a spell.) I worked with her on the wonderfully bonkers TV series New Artland. In it, she guided a group of teenagers towards making an audaciously messy group painting, then turned into a giant billboard using a digital process similar to the one she went on to make her Venice work with.

Full document.

Review: A Better Life

Judy Millar “A Better Life”

Review of solo exhibition at Hamish Morrison Galerie, Berlin, Germany

1st May – 4th June 2010.


Written for Monopol Magazine, Germany

Die Hamish Morrison Galerie freut sich, eine Ausstellung mit neuen Arbeiten von Judy Millar zu präsentieren. Die Ausstellung mit dem Titel A Better Life/Ein Besseres Leben ist Millars erste Einzelausstellung in Berlin seit ihrer großen Installation in der Kirche La Maddalena auf der Venedig Biennale 2009.

Für ihre raumgreifende Installation in La Maddalena benutzte Judy Millar riesige, mit stark vergrößerten Gesten der Künstlerin bedruckte Leinwände, die sich durch den Raum wanden und sich in ihm entfalteten; das Betrachten wurde für den Besucher zu einem kinematografischen Erlebnis, da das vollständige Erfassen der Installation nur durch das Umrunden der Leinwände, also durch Integrieren der Elemente Zeit und Bewegung, möglich war.

Für die aktuelle Ausstellung nimmt sich Judy Millar einer ‘white cube’ Galerie an; einem Raum, der völlig anders ist als eine barocke Kirche, der aber genauso mit malerischer Vergangenheit aufgeladen ist, und der sich genauso stark verwandelt durch ihre gewagte Installation.

Lange Leinwand-Bahnen, bedruckt mit Millars malerischen Zeichen, fließen durch den Raum der Galerie wie kollabierte Plakatwände, sie liegen gestapelt aufeinander, winden und rollen sich über sich selbst. Millars Gesten, auf der Leinwand zehnfach vergrößert, enthüllen einige wichtige, intime Details ihrer Arbeitsweise, aber sie haben auch einen grafischen, Comic-artigen, gar komischen Charakter. Sie werden zu eigenständigen Objekten mit einem Eigenleben, abgetrennt von der Künstlerin, die sie erschaffen hat. Wie Jennifer Gross schreibt: ‘durch das Vergrößern und Reproduzieren der manuellen Geste, wird der tatsächliche Malprozess der Künstlerin herauskristallisiert und übertragen.’ Gross beschreibt die bedruckten Leinwände weiter als ‘großräumige Nachwirkungen der Atelierarbeit.’

Das folgende Zitat von Judy Millar sagt viel über ihre Herangehensweise aus: ‘Als ich gestern mit dem Taxi durch die Stadt fuhr sah ich ein Bild, das sehr gut mit der Arbeit, die ich für die Ausstellung gemacht habe, korrespondiert. Eine Shampoo Werbung auf einem mehrstöckigen Hochhaus zeigte Haare, die in Locken die Fassade herunter und um die Ecke des Gebäudes fielen. Die Locken erhielten Volumen und Kontur durch die Form des Gebäudes und lösten gleichzeitig dessen Umrisse auf. Auf die gleiche Art und Weise transportieren die langen, Bänder-artigen Bahnen in der Ausstellung die übertriebenen malerischen Gesten, heben sie in und durch den Raum, während sie gleichzeitig durch die auf die Oberfläche gedruckten Bilder deformiert werden. Weitere Verzerrungen entstehen dadurch, dass der Betrachter das Bild nie von einer einzigen frontalen Perspektive erfassen kann, sondern sich entlang der Arbeit bewegen und sie in der Bewegung rekonstruieren muss.

Es ist diese Interaktion zwischen den malerischen Spuren der Künstlerin selbst – und deren Vergrößerung – und den realen Dingen der Welt – einschließlich der Betrachter – die Millars Arbeit jenseits eines vereinfachenden Diskurses über Malerei und Installationskunst ansiedelt. Stattdessen überschreitet sie die Linie zwischen bildlicher Fiktion, bildlicher Realität und realen Dingen im Raum. Durch diese Praxis beschäftigt sie sich mit einem fundamentalen Thema, das weit über Abstraktion hinweg bis in die Renaissance zurückreicht – namentlich in die Diskussion über die paradoxe Beziehung, die die Malerei mit der Welt hat, die sie einerseits versucht abzubilden und von der sie andererseits ein Teil sein will.

Judy Millar A Better Life 2010

Millars Installation ist deshalb nicht nur ein Objekt, das wir schweigsam betrachten sollen. Fordernd, spielerisch und manchmal ganz und gar konfrontativ, zerrt und schubst sie uns durch den Raum und eröffnet uns Möglichkeiten neuer Entdeckungen und Erfahrungen. Dadurch birgt sie das Versprechen auf ein ‘besseres Leben’ in sich; einen Optimismus im Hinblick auf die Art und Weise, wie wir die Welt um uns herum erfahren, und die wichtige und menschliche Rolle, die die Kunst in dieser Welt spielt.

Judy Millar lebt und arbeitet in Berlin und Auckland. Sie nimmt gerade an einem dreimonatigen Atelierstipendium des ISCP in New York teil. 2009 vertrat sie Neuseeland auf der Venedig Biennale. Folgende Einzelausstellungen fanden in jüngster Zeit statt: Matte Black in der Galerie Mark Müller, Zürich; Butter for the Fish bei Gow Langsford, Auckland und The Secret Life of Paint in der Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Judy Millar war 1994 Moet & Chandon Stipendiatin in Frankreich, 2002 gewann sie den Wallace Art Award. 2006 erhielt sie das Colin McCahon Atelierstipendium, das in jenem Jahr zum ersten Mal verliehen wurde. Weitere Stipendien erhielt sie von der Dunedin Public Art Gallery sowie dem Goethe Institut, Berlin. Eine umfassend Monographie über ihre Arbeit mit dem Titel You You, Me Me, erschien 2009 im Kerber Verlag.”
(Pressetext: Hamish Morrison Galerie)

Read originalartikel.Große Leinwandbahnen, die mit Millars malerischen Zeichen bedruckt sind, fließen durch die Galerie.

Essay by Morgan Thomas

Morgan Thomas on Judy Millar

Essay for Art and Australia. Vol 47

Spring – 2009. 

By Morgan Thomas.
Publication Archive.