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Millar, Judy (New Zealand, b.1957), Artist
Working the green
2003
oil on canvas
2415 x 3610 x 38 mm
7-2003
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 2003 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society and with the assistance of the artist and Gow Langsford Gallery Ltd.
In an essay from May 2002, writer Anthony Byrt said that ‘Judy Millar’s current works seem to make us wonder about what happens next’, and noted the artist’s desire ‘to get bigger and to be in the work more’.
‘Bigger’ and ‘in the work more’ are words that well describe what happened in 2003 when Judy Millar came to Dunedin as a Visiting Artist, and produced a series, of which this was the culminating painting, and at the time the largest she had ever made. Working the Green began with patches of fluoro pink, green and yellow, inspired by the vivid markers she had used to make some recent drawings. Then she went to work with dripping, paint-soaked rags, sweeping across the surface with gestures that seem simultaneously to clean away the runny pigment while leaving a beautifully fluid trace behind them.
With its accumulation of drips, flurries, spills and fingerprints, Working the Green provides a vivid map of the artist’s movements across and around its surface as it lay on the studio floor – leaning in and reaching out with her dripping handfuls of turpsy colour. The space these movements create, however, is anything but flat or literal. Underlayers float forward, colours stop suddenly and seem to disappear into one another, and surface strokes bend back into deep space to chase their own tails. There is a constant tension between the sloppy material facts of Millar’s strokes and the rollercoaster space they conjure. Asked during her residency what kind of space she hopes to create in her paintings, Millar replied ‘a completely dismantled kind of hovering shimmering one’. Working the Green shows us how it looks.

not on view

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