Nigel Milsom is a figurative painter of baroque abstractions. Formal contestations within each painting and within each exhibition (light versus dark, motion versus stasis, ruin versus heroism, advantage and disadvantage) slip into more complex and more personal structures.

His 2021 solo exhibition at The Commercial, Judo-House part 9 (birdland), was part social history, stories of coal pits and their soft flesh and feathered inhabitants, part family album and pantheon of aspiring contenders. Pathos of workers, qualifying by weight, punching above anonymity and above humility. A dialectic of unskilled champions.
Milsom’s figures are scaffolded with construction lines as though bodies were geometric form, faces gridded-up like a signwriter’s preparatory frame. The studies of anatomy and motion of Leonardo and Muybridge pull away from art towards trade.
Over the two decades of his professional career, Milsom has often turned to birds as subjects of his artworks (paintings but also video). They represent what is both human and not human. Innocence integrated to industry and myth. Conundrums of use value. The funereal cry of black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus) answers despair.

Nigel Milsom (b. 1975, Albury, NSW) received a Master of Fine Arts (Research) from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney in 2002. Between 2012 and 2015, Milsom won three of Australia’s most prestigious painting prizes: The Sir John Sulman Prize (2012), The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize (2013) and The Archibald Prize (2015).

Selected group exhibitions include 5 x 5 – the Artist and the Patron, curated by Michael Do, Penrith Regional Gallery, Sydney (2018); Australian art and the Russian avant-garde, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2017); Painting. More Painting, curated by Max Delany, Annika Kristensen and Hannah Mathews, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne (2016); Wilderness: Balnaves contemporary painting, curated by Wayne Tunnicliffe, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2010); Man: depicting contemporary masculinity, curated by Luke Parker, Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Sydney (2008); Terminus Projects, curated by Sarah Rawlings and Clare Lewis, ABC Building, Sydney (2007); The Year in Art, curated by Lisa Havilah and Jane Watters, S. H. Irvin Gallery, Sydney (2006).

In 2016, The Lock-Up, in Milsom’s hometown of Newcastle, presented a selected overview of the artist’s career following a solo survey of major paintings presented by the Moran Arts Foundation at Juniper Hall, Sydney in 2015. Milsom presented regular solo commercial exhibitions at Yuill | Crowley, Sydney between 2008 and 2017. In 2007, Living on Luck: Christopher Hanrahan and Nigel Milsom was presented by the National Art School Gallery, curated by Katie Dyer.

Milsom’s work is held in the collections of Allens Arthur Robinson Art Collection, Artbank, ANZ Bank Art Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Commonwealth Bank of Australia Art Collection, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Monash University Art Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Newcastle Art Gallery, Wesfarmers Art Collection, Wollongong University Art Collection.

Nigel Milsom’s first solo exhibition with The Commercial, Judo-House Pt. 9 (birdland), was presented in March-April 2021.


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