Judy Millar

Whipped Up World

Whipped Up World – Review Mark Amery – Stuff 19 February 2022

The title of Millar’s show at Robert Heald Gallery, upstairs in Cuba Street’s Left Bank, speaks straight to my sense of the state of things this week: Whipped up World. At their best, Millar’s large expressive gestural paintings have an extraordinary ability to express a physical and metaphysical experience of space and time, as if unlocking a different dimension. 

There are two distinct sets of work here, demonstrating different pulls in Millar’s work. In the first room is the more familiar: a dominance of lithe yet muscular movement of whipping wiped strokes, twisting in and out of deep space. Millar’s abstract work has a highly evolved natural engine of its own. These strokes are at once moving skeletal body parts, sparking twisting electrical synapses, and DNA strands crackling in construction, all set within a rainbow bath of exquisite colour to be found where the ocean meets sky at dusk and dawn. 

In the second room, on bigger canvases, the works are denser, with tension and obscuration caused by thick bright slaps of paint, congealed on the surface over deeper stormier pools. There’s nothing calming here – it’s big weather conflict, as if human and nature are in struggle, and the artist meditating through action – as one title puts it – on a ‘’Doubtful Sea’’. I’m put in mind of Millar as a gardener. I find these works harder to resolve as an experience, but there’s something rewarding in the almost physical struggle they put me through.