Pippi Miller | Archetypes
Friday February 9
Please join us for the opening
Characterised by an edginess created by the tension between the artist’s tightly controlled style and the provocativeness of her subject matter, this rich and daring exhibition marks a new stage in this young painter’s development.
Originals are $1500 framed with UV70 reflection control glass.
All works are also available in a very limited edition of five prints.
Each edition is pigment printed on archival Hahnemuhle Rag 305gsm paper and is signed,
dated and numbered by the artist.
Edition Prints are slightly smaller than the originals. $330 unframed and $450 framed with conservation glass.
The exhibition “Archetypes,” offers as set of seven painting (gouache on paper), presenting a series of narrative moments characterized by what French film director François Truffaut called “dramaturgical intensity.” Read as whole, these paintings offer an exploration of psycho-sexual issues that arise when childhood innocence encounters the realities of emerging adult experience. Not surprisingly given the exhibition’s title, the Western European traditions of myth and fairy tales serve as a vehicle for the painter’s subject matter as suggested in the paintings’ names, such as “Medusa” (2023) and “Sleeping Beauty” (2023). Each painting situates the event that it encapsulates in an elaborated mise scene, marked by objects familiar to viewers and routinely associated with these traditions, such as red apples, a mirror, and a mermaid.
We see more or less human figures, some obviously supernatural, engaged in activities and events, such as walking, dancing, eating, talking, and masturbating. These figures are arrested and stationary in medias res so to speak, almost as if these scenes were detailed depictions of freeze frames, extracted from a longer fiction film not available to us as viewers. The images themselves are marked by a tension between two notable qualities that characterize this artist’s work in this exhibition. Firstly, the material is itself emotionally charged. In the case of “Witch” (2023) an apparently young and naked woman is perhaps being burned to death–or perhaps presiding over a group of largely male youths, whose impassive expressions reveal little or nothing about their state of mind as they stand around the fire. The image evokes the long-standing cultural treatment of woman’s sexuality as both powerful and dangerous. Secondly, this highly inflammable subject matter (both literally and figuratively) is rendered with an astoundingly controlled and precise technique. The constrained palette, carefully orchestrated composition, and the largely classical use of symmetry and a-symmetry, produce a sense of completion, balance and containment.
In other paintings, an overwhelmingly obsessive repetition of details contributes to a feeling of unease, even anxiety. The density of the detail, as in the case of the leaves and apples on the tree in “Eve”( 2023), seems to imply a physical world that is always threatening to break its bounds, to explode into a formless chaos that can only be managed with great effort and expenditure of energy. In this case, the almost serpentine nature of the tree (its leaves look like scales), proleptically foreshadows the fate that awaits those who partake of its fruits.
In “Eve,” thus, two lithesome youths, one male and one female, lounge in post-coital bliss, their genitals clearly in evidence, each eating an apple; the iconography used to set the scene, in which the young people’s amorous’ tryst takes place, warns the viewer that “here” nakedness evokes sin. They are, nonetheless, both nonchalantly reading, unaware of the significance of what has transpired; in Biblical terms, they are eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which will result in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, signalling the end of innocence. Henceforth they will be abandoned “to their polluted ways,” in the words of poet John Milton.
Despite, or, perhaps, because of the tattooed heart framing the word Dad on the young man’s nubile arm, we know the story: the young couple will find themselves, wiping away their tears, and proceeding on “their solitary way.” The introduction of the word “Dad,” as well as the detailed recreation of the couples’ clothing, down to the young man’s high-top sneakers and the young woman Birkenstock sandals, explicitly couches the drama within the context of the contemporary family, while evoking the God of the Old Testament.
With each painting presenting an enigma on the theme of sexuality that the viewer is invited to explore, this extremely rich series marks a new stage in this painter’s development.
Pippi Miller (b.1997) holds a BA HONS first class (2019) from the University of Otago; a GradDip (2020) and an MFA (2023) from the Dunedin School of Art. She was born in Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington, but grew up in Ōtepoti | Dunedin and attended Logan Park High School, graduating in 2015. Her work was included in the 2021 group exhibition at RDS Galley, Dunedin, “Between Then and Here: Selected Works by the DSA 2020 Graduates,” and in the 2022 group exhibition 'Shifting Channels,” also at RDS Gallery. In March 2023, Olga Gallery, Dunedin, hosted her first solo exhibition "The Halloween Party," which included work completed for her MFA. Her drawing and painting-based practice focuses on exploring line and colour, illustration, and children’s literature.