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Nigel Milsom

Untitled (it's kept together by moving all around)  2006

oil on canvas

three parts: 150 × 120cm each

Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009

2009.60A-C

About the Artwork

Untitled (it’s kept together by moving all around) is a work composed of three large paintings. Its subtitle playfully invites the viewer to make a close and mobile inspection to discern the mass of brushstrokes that cover its surface. The work depicts a tree in a Sydney park near where Nigel Milsom lives, imagined at night. Painted in sumptuous dark tones of blue-blacks, mauves, purples and greens, the painting reveals itself through the play of light across its brushmarked surface. Milsom’s gothic vision of a night landscape is enhanced by the conflicting surfaces of matt and gloss he uses, giving the painting a fleshy quality and a physical presence that changes with the viewer’s movements and the angle of light striking its surface.

This suggestiveness is typical of Milsom’s surfaces – what appears to be monochromatic is in fact very painterly. The artist’s brushwork and modulations of colour, tints and tones are the means he uses to heighten the image quality, rather than representational illusion. Milsom is deeply influenced by the history of art and finds inspiration in the paintings of the nineteenth-century Japanese artist Hokusai, the American artists Edward Hopper and Alex Katz, and the German artist Gerhard Richter. For Milsom, a painting is successful only ‘when it announces the limits of painting and shows you that whatever the image is, it’s a painting – a fabrication operating in very clear space … whether it’s illusion or not, it is just paint, a material substance that can stand for many things.’

Updated and approved August 2016.

My aim is to develop alternative and original formal strategies that give meaning and content to experience. My work emphasises the importance of autobiographical history and local vernacular. Nigel Milsom, 2010.

Nigel Milsom, 2010

Nigel Milsom

– About the artist

Born 1975, Sydney. Lives and works Sydney.


Nigel Milsom’s paintings often appear to be experiments in the various treatments of gloss and matt paint. However, on closer inspection the monochromatic effect is almost always interrupted by splashes of pure colour, used to emphasise the illusion of light.

Milsom’s selected solo exhibitions include Untitled (Judo-House, Part II), Yuill|Crowley, Sydney (2009); The Rubber Room, Yuill|Crowley, Sydney (2008); Living on Luck, National Art School Gallery, Sydney (2007); and Choir, First Draft Gallery, Sydney (2006).

Milsom has shown in group exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, Sydney, and Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney. Selected group exhibitions include Ironic Expressionism, Virginia Wilson Art, Sydney (2006); Star of Track and Field, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney (2005); and The Barnyard Show, Francis Baker Smith Gallery, Sydney (2004).

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