An Insight into an exhibition at Red Hill Gallery by Mel Brigg - article by Ashleigh Clarke

An insight into an exhibition held at Red Hill Gallery in 2010 as seen through the eyes of University Of Queensland Intern Ashleigh Clarke. Mel has just been selected as a finalist in the 2012 Moran Art Prize  The winner will being announced on 24 July 2012.

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.

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.

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. Written by:-  Ashleigh Clarke (Internship Red Hill Gallery October 2010)