Melbourne based artist Melinda Harper has built a career on the seemingly endless possibilities of abstract colour placement. An impressive body of work is now on show at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. Appropriately titled ‘Colour Sensation’, this large exhibition chronicles three decades of artmaking and it is an absolute feast for the eyes.
In her early work you can see a strong connection to early twentieth century abstraction with simplified compositions that talk to artists such as Kazimir Malevich. However, it is not long before she develops her own language and a dynamic and unashamed celebration of colour begins. Harper’s canvases are structured in the varied relationships of shape – stripes, circles, triangles – with a sophisticated understanding of colour. Sometimes harmonious and other times discordant, Harper says the work is a direct response to her lived experience and she explains, “colour is emotional, it evokes a feeling. I have never read colour theory books. For me, it’s all about looking, feeling and reacting.”
While best known for her paintings, the exhibition also brings together Harper’s work in other mediums such as printmaking, sculptural assemblage and a series of intricate hand-sewn tapestries. Collections of whimsical sculptures dance in museum display cabinets; constructed from ceramic vessels (often purchased from op shops), Harper decorates with vibrantly coloured wood blocks and circular mirrors that provide the viewer with a three dimensional manifestation of her paintings.
If you live in (or plan to visit) Melbourne before October 25, a visit to Heide is an absolute must. Heide holds a significant place in Australian art history, originally purchased in 1934 by prominent benefactors John and Sunday Reed, it soon developed into a home for some of Australia’s best known modernist painters including Nolan, Tucker, Hester and Perceval. Becoming a public museum in 1981, after various impressive building projects and sizeable donations of work, have made it one of our more important cultural institutions.
So aside from the must-see Harper exhibition, there are always several other shows from the Heide collection, not to mention the drop-dead architecture and glorious gardens, that make for a truly wonderful day out celebrating all that is modern art in Australia.
Melinda Harper ‘Colour Sensation’
Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Road
Public Holidays: 10am-5pm
Until 25th October 2015