Judy Millar

Review: My Body Pressed

By Tracey Clement for Art Guide.

Rock Drop

This work plays with the complexity of the vibrant junction between the Victorian, neo-Classical and 21st century architecture of the building.

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In Conversation with Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers.

Bon Voyage David Bowie

Polymath, bookworm, the only Rockstar I ever wanted to be.

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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.

Rock Drop

Rock Drop

A site-specific commission by Auckland Art Gallery.

July 2017 – July 2019.

In the South Atrium of the Auckland Art Gallery resides my latest major site-specific commission, Rock Drop 2017. Acquired by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki with the support of Auckland Sculpture Trust, Auckland Contemporary Arts Trust and Auckland Art Gallery Foundation’s 2016 annual appeal.

“This work plays with the complexity of the vibrant junction between the Victorian, neo-Classical and 21st century architecture of the building, Millar’s towering painterly installation responds to the dynamics of the space and appears to change and morph from different perspectives, provoking new and exciting experiences for Gallery visitors.” – Curator and Gallery Director, Rhana Devenport. 2017

Judy Millar Rock Drop 2017-2019

Judy Millar Rock Drop 2017-2019

In Conversation with Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers.

A conversation with Judy Millar

Written by Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers for Ocula 
Auckland – 13 June 2016
Ocula Judy Millar 2016

Image: Judy Millar, Advancing All Electric, 2016. Installation view, Galerie Mark Müller, Zurich. Photo: Millar Studio. Courtesy the artist.

I have heard Schwitters’ formative installation Merzbau [the alteration of rooms in his family house into sculptural environments with elaborate angled surfaces] described as a ‘walk-in collage’ of different spatial and architectural features. Does this relate in someway to your own work?

Merzbau explored new spatial ideas in art, and my work also relates to new kinds of space, specifically combining elements of architecture, sculpture and painting. I am also interested in the idea of collage that Schwitters was using. Of course, he was collaging everyday material, and I am reassembling digital reproductions of my own painted images. The worthwhile thing about showing in Europe is that you get these very new takes on the work that you are doing—connections that wouldn’t be immediately made here, in New Zealand.

Ocula Judy Millar 2016

Image: Judy Millar, Untitled, 2016. Acrylic and oil on paper, 89 x 64 cm (incl frame). Courtesy of Bartley + Company Art.

Do you have a name for these sculptural installation works? They still involve painterly elements—more precisely, digital reproductions of your paintings—and I am reluctant to simply refer to them as ‘sculptures’.

They are called ‘space works’. In the studio we call them ‘props’ rather than sculptures. I would always bristle when the people I work with in the studio called them ‘sculptures’. So we came to the decision that we would call them props—I quite like the word.

The space works do seem to be ‘collaged’ in the way that different spatial planes are brought together. To me, they look like massive two-dimensional jigsaw pieces that have been assembled in interesting configurations.

Yes, they are a spatial collage in this respect, so this does fit quite well with the Merzbau concerns. On the surface of the structure, I am placing images of other forms that I’ve made in three-dimensions then photographed and had printed onto sticker paper. So the main space work has images of other spatial works hanging on its surface. These images really are like big stickers on the surface of the work. Each of these stickers is stuck to a piece of thin aluminium that is then gently curved in different directions. The difference with this new work is that the stickers, instead of being flat on the surface like previous works, curl away, gently lifting away from the form itself.

So it is quite a complex piece that involves both illusionistic curves and physical curves—real shadows and images containing shadows. If anything, these works are lampooning big heavy ‘male’ sculpture. It is a very gentle dig. These are stickers! It is everything that you shouldn’t do with a traditional sculpture: it’s illusionistic, it’s not real, it’s plywood made to look like cardboard, and it carries images on its surface.

Ocula Judy Millar 2016

Image: Judy Millar, Advancing All Electric, 2016. Installation view, Galerie Mark Müller, Zurich. Photo: Millar Studio. Courtesy the artist.

Do you often find yourself pushing back against certain traditions or stereotypes in art, such as the prototypical painting or sculpture?

I try and undo them because I want to understand them. My way of understanding something is to pull it apart. A good sculpture is about a form in the round that both alters and is altered by the space that surrounds it. But I am more interested in it existing as an image rather than a form. This recent spatial work is primarily made up of slotted planes—it is planar in the sense that it is really just an image surface that has become a little more complicated.

Ocula Judy Millar 2016

Image: Judy Millar, Untitled, 2016. Acrylic and oil on paper, 115.5 x 86 cm (incl frame). Courtesy of Bartley + Company Art.

Can you talk more about this relationship between space and painting in your work? You are testing the traditional idea of sculpture by introducing the imagistic flatness of painting. But it must be noted that, while we have been speaking about your space works, you also continue to make paintings that explore the basic fluidity of paint as a medium that can be made to sit on a flat surface in different ways.

Yes, an absolutely central interest of mine is how a painting alters its spatial environment. On one level, the painted works are a ‘finding out’ process that includes some really basic stuff about how colours interact and how the very fluid and incredible medium of paint functions. But I am painting these works flat on the floor and when I am doing this, I am trying to build an entire space. It is not that I am just thinking of a two-dimensional planar surface on the ground. It is as though I am trying to build a dome-like space above the canvas. I am in space; my movements are in space. So the painting is really about creating a form of space. It almost lands on that plane with the hope that, when I put the canvas upright, it is going to then come into the viewer’s space—that it is going to determine this space or influence it in someway.

While Schwitters might be a useful reference for your space works, I am venturing that some viewers might also think of Abstract Expressionism and Action Painting with respect to the gestural element involved in your paintings. Do you have any thoughts about this?

The word that always sets my teeth on edge is ‘gesture.’ Gesture seems like something that comes gushing out from deep inside you. That is not really what I am interested in. My work is much more about drawing; it is about looking and seeing, less about ‘expressing’. I’m using gesture only in the sense that a gesture can communicate something.

But Abstract Expressionism did produce some pretty amazing work and it also fell into a very big hole. I think there is something in there that is still worth exploring—that is still worth bringing forward. But like everything that is continually repeated, Action Painting became nothing but a mannerism. And I am very aware that I am referencing this form of painting in a ‘gone’ way. I am not really parodying it; rather I am referencing a ‘gone form’. It is a form that already stands for something. This continues to interest me greatly with painting. — Read original article here.

Bon Voyage David Bowie

Saluting David Bowie!

8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

Polymath, bookworm, the only Rockstar I ever wanted to be.