The balancing act of the combined energies of pronounced colour, gestural liberation and the physical materiality of a painted surface, quintessentially defines Miranda Skoczek. Freedoms and boundaries of everyday and historical iconography are in confluence with the natural environment in her impressive oeuvre. Art Almanac spoke with the Victorian-based artist ahead of her upcoming solo show at Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Melbourne, ‘Floating Moons and Dizzying Hues’.
I understand you work on your body of exhibited works right up to opening date. Can you tell me about this process?
In the early stages of creating a show, the energy in the studio is one of great passion and frenzy. My process begins very automatically and I’m rather physical with the works. If I start with them lying on the floor, I’m constantly circling, flipping their orientation, pouring the oils (thinned to a watercolour consistency) and covering vast areas with great gestural freedom. There’s a sense of the performative, and I’m having fun, I’m playful by nature. As the majority of my works are layered, I work on several canvases at once, easily ten, sometimes more. Once the joy turns to struggle and angst, it’s handy having the option of turning my attention to a less troublesome work.
Is there a unified direction you are channelling with these works, or are you guided by particular sources of inspiration?
I’m seldom directed by a single idea; I’m a sponge for images, gathered from my myriad books, Instagram, films, eBay, auction house websites – for antiques and decorative objects of every description, and of course, travel. With these works there are the continued themes of duality. Nature and culture. Inside and outside. High and low art. Positive and negative. Spare and fleshy surfaces. I’m as random with my motifs and symbolic forms from one canvas to the next, as I am with the historical references that interest me. I’ve recently returned to Selene, the name the ancient Greeks gave to the moon, as I’m drawn to her links to romance, and her being the eye of the night; the light where there is dark.
These new paintings appear to add to the aesthetic language synonymous with your practice – raw and expressive, a bold but playful use of colour and intuitive painterly abstraction. How important has colour and relying on your intuition been for these new works? And which leads the other?
Intuition is of utmost importance. I have said before I have a completely spiritual connection to my works. Without colour and my intuition, I really haven’t a practice. It’s that simple. Intuition leads the way; I never use colour intellectually – the colours first applied so automatically dictate the atmosphere of the finished work. One colour, mark, form always lead the next.
In the current climate people are seeking escapism from a range of visual stimuli and equally now, arguably more then ever, art is being used to make sense of times – past, present and future. You have previously stated that your paintings are not centred on social concerns and instead are places for escape and restoration. Has self-isolation and social-distancing informed these new works in any way, or changed your usual approach to working on a show? And in these trying times, has the function of your art from your personal perspective been redefined at all?
The only change brought about by the goings-on of COVID-19 has been the way nature has permeated the forms that I’ve reintroduced into my practice. As has always been the case, my pictures are positive in daily life. As a single Mum who feels most supported when immersed in nature, my son and I were/are most fortunate to live surrounded by the beauty of the Dandenong Ranges. It’s been rather interesting to see, that at times I’ve basically painted simplifications of my surrounding landscape.
Nicholas Thompson Gallery
29 July to 16 August 2020