Nigel Milsom can paint the look of many things: folded paper, orchid petals, lights shimmering through train smoke, hounds coursing. He paints prize-winning portraits too, not only the look of his subjects but their very essence as well.
Milsom began his ‘bird as prophet’ series in 2007 with a video of peregrine falcons projected onto the ABC building in Ultimo. A year or so later his bird paintings appeared and it was clear that these works were the product of a long engagement with their subject matter. Milsom recalls being profoundly influenced as a child by Ken Loach’s 1969 film, Kes, which tells the story of a young working class boy and the kestrel he trains in a Yorkshire coal mining town. All of Milsom's Bird Painting suggested motion, but motion that had been analysed and broken down photographically even as the images themselves became increasingly abstracted.
Here he does something new, rendering a crackle of cockatoos in ink, fixing the movement of both. Feathers are graphic outlines rather than textured paint and we feel the weight of air displaced by downstroke. Silhouetted sometimes, alive always, Milsom shows the birds as black shapes against a featureless expanse that is less sky than the page on which he works for as much as these images are the results of prolonged and knowledgeable looking, they are also the product of ink on paper, its liquidity and flow. Milsom knows how ink’s qualities of bleed and absorption can trick us into believing we are seeing something else---this might be the “lesson” of the abstract works interspersed here –and in this raucous display JUDO HOUSE PART 7 (The White Light) 2017 Milsom realises the grace of flight itself.
— Ingrid Perez, New York, November 2017
Wednesday 06 December 6—8pm
Tuesday to Saturday 11am—6pm