For the love of colour. A solo exhibition by Samuel Miller

Galerie Zadra | 2-Nov-2016
Can you imagine a world without colour? Neither can painter Samuel Miller, an artist living and working in the remote desert in the far north west of South Australia.
Samuel Miller, Ngayuku Ngura, 2016, acrylic on linen, 168.5 x 162.5 cm. Courtesy the Artist, Ninuku Arts & Galerie Zadra.
"The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most." - John Ruskin

English art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) believed passionately in the connection between nature, art and society. He maintained that painters had a moral duty to use natural colour and light in representing their environment in order to educate the minds of the viewers and to open them up to spiritual truths of Nature. Ruskin was most likely referring of J.M.W. Turner when he wrote the above quote, but he could well have been writing about Samuel Miller.

Samuel Miller (b. 1966) is a painter with a heightened sense of colour, light and movement. Entirely self-taught, he effortlessly combines thousands of dots of intense colour "“ many of which are found in nature "“ in a way few artists can emulate. The more colours an artist introduces to his palette, the more technically challenging it becomes to honour the internal logic of the painting; in the hands of lesser artists, all that remains for the viewer is simply colour. Miller, however, possesses such skill that our minds perceive each painting as much more than just dazzling colours and abstract shapes.

Miller is an artist of singular focus. He paints according to his own rules and at his own pace, surrounded by numerous pots of colour which he selects with great consideration. A paint-caked cleaning rag is never far from reach. He is resolute in painting only what interests him; he ignores suggestions or requests that are not exactly what he wanted to do anyway. His canvases are infused with his warm and gentle personality, which brings a vibrancy to each work far greater than the sum of the colours alone.

As with many of his contemporaries, Miller's subject matter is his traditional Aboriginal Country's topography and sacred stories. But his approach appears more like he is revealing the DNA of his Country rather than depicting aerial variations in the landscape: The precision of his execution points to the idea that the whole will unravel if even so much as one dot is dropped. The symbiotic relationship binding the people, land and culture could also be described thus, which when seen this way, reminds the viewer of the powerful cultural and political currents running through contemporary Aboriginal art.

The purity and thoughtfulness of Miller's mind find perfect expression in his colourful compositions, which beautifully reflect the sacred Country they describe. His paintings speak a truth far more eloquently in colour than they ever could in words.

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