Opening: Friday, 25th October 2013, 6pm
Exhibition Dates: Friday, 25th October– Saturday, 16th November 2013


The works in the current exhibition of Judy Millar continue her conceptual painting concerns with displacement and the fold. These are expressed through a contemporary reading of the Baroque aesthetic of deferral and presentation. It is a characteristic of the ‘Baroque’ that it presents itself as a spatial monad that is autonomous and spatially contained or enfolded, and as a result negates the traditional idea of an image as a window onto to space. The space of the image is enclosed “The fold: the Baroque invents the infinite work of process. The problem is not how to finish a fold, but how to continue it, to have it go though the ceiling, how to bring it to infinity…”[1]


The chosen title of the exhibition, apart from its amusing wordplay and witty ‘mock reference’ to Socrates, Sartre and Sinatra, comes as a creative translation by the artist of a small painted image into a photograph.[2] Millar has exaggerated the colour tones through the use of Photoshop, converted the file to a semi-tone dot image and then screen-printed the resulting image onto a hand painted background. The point to be made, apart from the obvious enfolded palimpsest approach to the realisation of this series of work, is that the hand and its proxy (the computer) are integrated within the work to give a uniquely original effect. It is an intentionally calibrated optical effect that clarifies and intensifies the colouristic presence that is seen in the finished images. The difficult question of how to encompass time, space, and the pictorial processes in an art image, is something that both fascinates and challenges Millar. While deeply suspicious of the gesture or identifying mark of the artist, since it always privileges the subjectivity of expression over the thing seen. Millar therefore disrupts the conventional signifying chain of picture making. Hence by means of translation—literally digitalisation—Millar foregrounds the image ahead of the immediate subjective tendencies of mark making. This said Do Be Do is reintegrated with the hand making gesture that is presented by the ground support. The suggestion is that time and space has become layered within the actual processes of the image’s making, embedded and enfolded within the work, and that this genuinely affirms a priori the presence of the image as an image. It should not be forgotten, however, that the digital process (or Photoshop) still retains its reference ‘to making’—it signifies what it is— since the ‘digit’ is as much of the hand (digits) as it is a computerised process. Millar interleaves or layers forms and it is not surprising that the term ‘to interleave’ in terms of modern technology and communications means simply to alternate.  But this being said, and by my stressing the process aspect of these works, the viewer must not miss the point made by the visual presence of Do Be Do. Similarly, in the accompanying Deluge works the same screens from Do Be Do have been used, and yet the outcome is far more fragmented and emotionally random in terms of visual appearance. Judy Millar is an artist (painter) who creates and questions the complex relationship between painting and photography, between the gestural mark and its reproduction, between the intellectual and emotional processes of making and the status of a thing made. The cliché of a painting as a window onto an imaginary world is no longer tenable; a painted image of today must be its own world. The viewer assimilates and completes the work, and the artist gives the means by which the viewer is able to form a judgement.


                                                      Mark Gisbourne



Judy Millar represented New Zealand at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Recent solo exhibitions include: Be Do Be Do Be Do, IMA, Brisbane; I Give You The End Of A Golden Thread, Sullivan & Strumpf, Sydney; Comic Drop, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland; The Rainbow Loop, Museum Otterndorf. Group exhibitions include Farbiges Grau, Mies van Der Rohe Haus, Berlin; Artists for Tichy, GASK, Gallery of Central Bohemia; The Hierarchy Problem, Rohkunstbau, Schloß Marquardt, Potsdam; Artists from Aotearoa, Frankfurter Kunstverein. She was Moet & Chandon Fellow in 1994, and in 2002 she won the Wallace Art Award. Residencies include the inaugural Colin McCahon Residency, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Goethe Institut, Berlin and ISCP programme in New York. 

Judy Millar lives and works in Berlin and Auckland.




[1] Gilles Deleuze, ‘What is Baroque?’, The Fold: Leibnitz and the Baroque, London, 1993 (pp. 27-38), p. 34

[2] A witty take on Socrates ‘to be is to do’, Sartre’s ‘to do is to be’, and Sinatra’s lyric ‘DO be do be do’