Melinda Harper’s new paintings extend her interest in non-objective painting. Harper has had a long and distinguished career. Of her generation, within Australian art, she is regarded as one of the pioneer exponents of this area of abstract painting, and she continues to influence a whole band of younger abstractionists.
Using customary ‘striping’ or bars of colour, Harper suggests interior pictorial spaces, which drift in and out of cognition. Warm or cool colours float forward, or drift back, creating mesmerising spatial connections. This exhibition revisits past works, including some smaller striped works and paintings with a reduced palette. Several of the small works, including the striped works, have a background of black, which acts as an outline and intensifies the colour.
Often, when contemplating the artist’s work, the viewer can almost ‘hear’ the sound of the colours as they bounce and hum across the canvases.
Sometimes, Harper imposes squares on top of the bars and stripes to break into the rhythm, forming calm anchor points against the frenetic buzz and hum of the underlying scuffle of colours.
Elsewhere in the exhibition, Harper utilises a ‘mosaic’ approach, which enables her to plot out systems of colour across the canvases. The viewer’s eye skips across the surfaces, following one colour’s trajectory, and then another, and then another. At first, these might seem like random colour placements, but they have in fact been very carefully considered, so that no one colour dominates the arrangements.
Harper’s work is included in major public and private collections throughout Australia. Last year, she was included in Call of the Avant Garde: Constructivism and Australian Art, at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. In 2015, she was the subject of a major survey exhibition, Colour Sensation: The Works of Melinda Harper, also at Heide Museum of Modern Art. In 2016, she was featured in the important survey exhibition, Painting. More Painting, at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.