8 - 25 May 2013

Opening Night | Thursday 9 May 6-8pm

Melissa Osborne

For New Surfaces, Melissa Osborne creates paintings that are primarily concerned in dealing with our current image saturated environment. She opens up questions on how we relate to the volume and types of images we encounter by creating a link in the work connecting the viewer to a present and past time. Historical landscapes are disrupted by blanked out figures of brightly coloured patterns. These patterns are found in the macro worlds of faceted crystals, and through the use of refracted colour and light invite us into new ways of seeing and perspective.

IMAGES | Melissa Osborne, China Village, 2013, oil on linen, 60 x 80cm, Victorian Lady, 2013, oil on linen, 90 x 76cm| Images courtesy of the artist. 


The most recent paintings, New Surfaces, by Melissa Osborne paint both past and present realities that are reminiscent of Surrealism’s engagement with female imagery, photography and psychology. Osborne’s compositions constantly merge dualities and depict mutiplicity. In China Village 2, the sepia background is contrasted by one brightly colored figure walking on a pathway in a rural landscape. The sepia background references 18th and 19th century photography, while the brightly colored figure, seemingly older with a cane and female, brings contemporary painting into the dialogue. Osborne’s idiosyncratic paintings bypass the difficulty of painting in the contemporary art world by making unique paintings that merge a past reality with an active and current reality. The faceted sections of color activate a contemporary world.

In Victorian Lady, Osborne grounds the faceted, facial surface, which speaks to the anonymous barrage of images Debord protested against that is synonymous with contemporary life by surrounding it with a distinct female fashion. Osborne conjures a Proustian scene from In Search of Lost Time of dipping madeleine biscuits into a cup of tea and falling into another timeframe while looking into the cup of tea when she inserts a multi-faceted color field in this portrait of a Victorian-era woman. The sepia tone and reference to a past world move in slow time. The reflection of an unknown face merged with a more defined past allow for an experience of reflection that counteracts media based culture.

Osborne merges two seemingly real images whereas Surrealism depicts dream worlds and includes juxtapositions that are extreme and illogical.

The human figure in Osborne’s painting is not revealed in a personal way but is painted in a personal, idiosyncratic way that patterns a face rather then depict an individual with a particular facial expression. The repeated patterning and faceting in Osborne’s painting allude to the complexity and fragility of a person’s interior world. Proust wrote about a multiplicity of perspectives and Osborne’s painting depicts images of multiplicity. Osborne’s use of pattern and faceted figures highlight multiplicity in life and in people and includes: capturing images on mirrored surfaces, a diamond erupting out of lake that reflects the colors in the water and sky and patterned and faceted figures.

The psychological frame in Osborne’s painting is a world where not all is known. Paths are not horizontal or linear but are about layering and a vertical time. There are always two surfaces meeting: a diamond in a landscape or a figure formed of many sections of color in a sepia colored interior or exterior space. The figure is walking away from or moving out of the picture plane but the room or landscape remains.

Life in the 21st century could be defined by - instability. Osborne’s paintings capture the world of unknown futures for unknown figures. Osborne captures past and present worlds on one facet on the surface of a circular diamond, while depicting how people can so easily space out and be lost in one memory. However, it is clear the reflections Osborne paints are complex, multifaceted and are connected to the past.

- Dr. Kim Connerton
Installation Artist
Casual Lecturer in Architecture and Art
UTS Sydney, COFA/UNSW, University of Sydney