2003 was a very busy year for Judy Millar. She was an artist in residence at Dunedin Public Art Gallery with the months painting in a disused theatre culminating in the solo exhibition I is She, As You to Me in September / October. She then travelled to London and soon after Berlin, where she spent three months painting and absorbing the local art scene. In February she returned to Auckland, her job at Elam School of Fine Arts and her West Coast painting studio at Anawhata. Her upcoming exhibition is the result of this past six months and can be viewed from 6th April at Gow Langsford Gallery – Auckland.
New work continues her interest in colour and brushstrokes. “Painting for me is a way to structure the world in order to see it, if only fleetingly and provisionally......my work is not about making pictures, but rather about finding a way to structure the world that enables me to picture it.” (Judy Millar, 2002)
Curator Justin Paton describes recent work as – “Canvas-filling flurries. Switchbacks and elbowy zigzags. Six-stroke stars or asterisks. Wobbly downstrokes, like molten racetracks. Palisades of paint – up-down, up-down.” (Judy Millar – I is She, As You to Me, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2003)
The relationship between the artist and the material has become stronger and more transparent in Millar's most recent paintings. She uses mops, squeegees, sponges, rags and sometimes her hand – dragging these across the canvas surface to create often undetermined forms. These works are an exemplification of the notion of hands-on creating fluid, rhythmic patterns of infinite variety and levels of intensity. The presence of the body in this process becomes interwoven with the paint and remains indelibly present in the work. There is a sense of movement, a sensual fluidity.
Painterly concerns and expressive movement in these works also recall the abstract expressionism of the American painter Jackson Pollock. This, however, is Millar’s own blend of passionate abstract expressionism without the anger.
Later in 2004, Millar will exhibit at Ludwigsburger Kunstverein in Germany. The exhibition will present the work of four painters – Judy Millar and Stephen Bambury from New Zealand and Ingolfur Arnarsson and Tumi Magnusson from Iceland – and will look at the way their work as international artists interacts with ‘modernist’ concepts without the fluctuations of European art-fashion. Millar has exhibited in Europe for the past two years with work being well received by both critics and collectors. The opportunity to participate in this exhibition will contextualise Millar as an artist whose work transcends the geographic boundaries of where it is executed.