Aboriginal artist Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori began painting at 81. Her works invite bright colours and expressive form to the canvas that translates the experiences of growing up on Bentinck Island in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria. The gestural brushwork and vivid hues represent her impressions of Country — inspired by the narratives from Dibirdibi, her husband’s Country, and her own, Mirdidingki.
Australian artist Marisa Purcell captures the ephemeral in her poetic abstraction paintings. Layers of colour wash over the canvas, adding a multi-dimensionality that allows her audience to gaze and wonder. Marisa uses oils, acrylics and watercolours to reveal ethereal aesthetics; each layer is active as the artist allows the medium to pool and form its own narratives, akin to the metaphors of everyday life.
Born in Helsinki, Finland, Melbourne-based artist Agneta Ekholm lets her works evolve on the canvas, mastering her signature technique over years of practice. The layering of paint resembles flowing water and glass-like shapes that express her emotional and cognitive responses. “Working with fast-drying acrylic and water, I use a sponge to apply layer upon layer of shapes and gestures with solid pigment and transparent washes, while continually washing and rubbing sections away until the final complex image is built,” she says. “It is an obsessive and fastidious process, and the work travels a complex journey of twists and turns before I have found the ‘solution’ which is that painting’s final incarnation.”
Sydney-based artist Ash Holmes is known and loved worldwide for her poetic abstraction artworks – defining the term with her knowledge of colour and intuitive mark-making. While the American colour-field artists of the 1950 and 60s may inspire some elements of the work, it’s the Australian landscape and way of life that draws Ash back to her painting practice. Her studies in colour psychology and time in nature seep into the works – making them as refreshing as a bush walk or ocean swim.
Melbourne-based Claire Kirkup uses her emotions as the groundwork for her vivid abstract artworks filled with expressive mark making and bright, contrasting hues. Claire describes her artworks as being like a diary. “At the very core of my paintings are life experiences. Emotions are applied in flexible forms and showcased as gaping cliffs, hilltops, precipices or large expanses of sky,” she explains. “Taking my life experiences and moulding them into my own landscape is my way of working through tough things. Sometimes my works are associated with nostalgia or deal with death and renewal.”
With a background in dance and performance, Clinton Naina (formerly Nain) similarly employs domestic materials with paint and canvas to tell the histories forced on his ancestors from the Torres Strait Islands. Through his abstract paintings, Clinton recognises the loss and grief from the treatment of Aboriginal people and the land since colonisation, but he also allows for hope through the symbolic composition and colour palette.
Melbourne-based artist Saxon Quinn uses streetscapes as inspiration in his abstract artworks – each canvas filled with intimate detail enticing the viewer closer. It’s the rhythm of the people-filled cities, alongside monolithic concrete buildings, geometry, and well-worn marks that impact his work. Yet Saxon seems to cancel out the noise and instead translates them into peaceful artworks full of textural mark-making and subtle hues.