Monday, October 18, 2010

Mel Brigg

The exhibition ‘Emotive Moods’ by self taught and internationally acclaimed artist Mel Brigg is an eclectic mix of landscapes, seascapes, still life and portraiture. Simplistic and skilful in his application many of the pieces, while still stunning, are politically charged and thought provoking.

Image - Red Hill Gallery
'The Empty Bowl 2'

These traits in his artworks are seen in his famous ‘Bowl’ and ‘Exodus and Arrival’ series. Although there are quite a number of the large scale ‘Exodus and Arrival’ series there are only two of the ‘Bowl’ series present, the standout being the ‘Empty Bowl 2’. Painted in a style typical of Brigg, from afar the application of the paint provides more dimension and tenacity than the subject matter (which is just an empty bowl and porcupine quill). It is not until the viewer is up close that the political significance of this work is realised. Etched into the paint are the words “Mugabe’s legacy to South Africa, RIP”. Immediately the exhibition seems more than just pretty paintings.

Image: Red Hill Gallery
'The Arrival'
The ‘Exodus and Arrival’series are more a form of self-expression than a political statement. Originally from South Africa the move to Australia left Brigg feeling alienated, which was his inspiration for these series. While all are similarly composed there is something compelling about the works. Inspired by the colours of both countries the large-scale paintings generally depict baron landscapes in vivid colours with a number of small people walking either toward or away (it’s difficult to tell) from the horizon. These miniscule figures are completely dwarfed by their baron surroundings and accurately illustrate Brigg’s feeling of alienation

Another interesting aspect of this series is the repeated motif of a circle around a sole figure. Although the ring looks like the imprint of a rim of a glass, the ring itself is quite mysterious resulting in the age-old question of – what does it mean? Whether it is just a focal point in the painting or a signifier of an alienated figure (possibly Brigg himself?) is left up to the viewer to decide.

A fantastic exhibition, Brigg is a highly talented artist who has the intrinsic ability to accurately depict a range of emotions and moods in his works.

Open until the Sunday the 31st October at The Red Hill Gallery (61 Musgrave Road, Red Hill)


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