According to Milsom, a painting is successful only ‘when it announces the limits of painting and shows you that whatever the image is, it’s a painting—a fabrication operating in very clear space ... whether it’s illusion or not, it is just paint—a material substance that can stand for many things’. Ingrid Periz


Nigel Milsom (b. 1975, Albury, l. Newcastle) is a figurative painter of baroque abstractions. Formal contestations within each painting and within each exhibition (light versus dark, motion versus stasis, advantage and disadvantage) slip into more complex and more personal structures. Milsom has had a consistent studio practice over two and a half decades. While at times his paintings have been more provisional in nature, strong painting is his signature indebted to chiaroscuro persuasion and a highly distinctive personal style. Typically white paint figures on black paint ground with the occasional intervention of colour, Milsom’s subjects are constructed energetically via a scaffold of construction lines that begin in ink studies and are left visible in the final work. His bodies are geometric form against a more gestural and more openly brushy sequence of marks. His subjects range widely and function abstractly as entry points to composition and pictorial pragmatics. While focused around an athletics of form, Milsom’s slippages into social dynamics and cultural references are ubiquitous and operate in parallel — often including veiled music and literary motifs as well as autobiographical chapters.

Milsom has been awarded 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). He received a Master of Fine Arts (Research) from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney in 2002.

Key exhibitions

Key readings



Allens Arthur Robinson Art Collection
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
Murray Art Museum Albury
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Newcastle Art Gallery
Wesfarmers Art Collection
Wollongong University Art Collection


» View available artworks by Nigel Milsom