Sam Mitchell

Bio.

an obsessive drive to create images[1]

A sassy and subversive bricolage of rescued materials, painting media and eccentric imagery are utilised by painter Sam Mitchell to explore the potency of pictures. Toucans, parrots, bugerigars, canaries and cats populate her paintings as do the busts of human subjects ranging from Nancy Mitford to Michael Jackson.

Discoloured, dog-eared endpages torn from decommissioned library books and other discarded volumes provide support for Mitchell’s simple yet poignant watercolours. Carefully inked scenes and domestic animals are traced onto aged paper with simple washes and finely painted and monochromatic outlines. Geriatric and degenerate owners dabbling in a spot of Sunday-painting are evoked by Mitchell’s watercolours which depict domestic pets sometimes uttering obscenities. Mills and Boon like fantasies, awkward social situations and history-book illustrations are also captured, seeming more like cathartic teenage doodles. More recent experimentation has seen Mitchell digitally reproduce editions of old sepia-toned studio photographic portraits and carefully paint details over them in watercolours.

Mitchell also paints in acrylic on perspex, a technically demanding medium that dictates that works must be painted backwards and in reverse. The results of this virtuosic process are slick and glossy, Mitchell uses lurid, high-key flesh tones and leaves the backgrounds transparent so that her figures seem to float upon the walls behind them. The designs with which Mitchell desecrates her portrait busts quote the tatoo-parlour vernacular of scrolls, skulls, hearts as well as more surprising imagery such as nude women lifted from 1960s mens magazines, pornographic imaginings, colonial events, religious imagery and tender teenage drawings of ponies and pop-music lyrics. Both rehabilitated paper and difficult perspex provide limitations and parameters within which Mitchell experiments, creating incongruous imagery on forlorn paper and commercial plastic.

Acerbic and irreverant, Mitchell explores the tension between rebellion and propriety, transgression and etiquette- canaries swear like sailors and young boys are coated in obscene tatoos.Rigorous technique is combined with comic vignettes and prickly portraits from the inside out, undermining duplicitous social masks and exposing inner desires.

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Sam Mitchell (1971) currently lives and works in Auckland and completed her Masters at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2000. Since then she has exhibited works nationally and internationally in private galleries as well as public art institutions. Recent solo exhibitions include: One of Us Can Not be Wrong (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2014), Hip (Bartley and Co, Wellington, 2013), Members Only (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2012), Glean (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2011), Time May Change Me (Anna Bibby Gallery, 2010) and Samantha Mitchell (Newcastle Regional Gallery, Australia, 2010). Mitchell has received many prestigious awards for her work including the Paramount Award at the Wallace Art Awards (2010) allowing a six-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Programme in New York. In 2014 she was the William Hodges Fellow in Invercargill and had a resultign solo exhibition at the Southland Art Gallery and Museum. In 2015 she was the Tylee Cottage Artist in Residence in Whanganui.  Additionally Mitchell has been featured in recent publications such as Warwick Brown’s Seen this century: 100 contemporary New Zealand Artists: A Collector’s Guide (2009) and Richard Wolfe’s New Zealand Portraits (2008).

Sam Mitchell will exhibit new work at Melanie Roger Gallery in late August.  Concurrently, she and Gavin Hurley will also open a new two person exhibition at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui.

For additional information and a complete CV please contact the gallery.

[1]Warick Brown, Seen This Century: 100 Contemporary New Zealand Artists. A Collector’s Guide (Random House New Zealand: Auckland, 2009), p. 284.

Selected Media.

  1. SAM MITCHELL ARTIST TALK
    Sam Mitchell discusses her work in the exhibition "Meet"
    2015
  2. THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING...
    Southland Museum and Art Gallery catalogue
    2014
  3. SULTRY NOSTALGIA
    Emma Jameson, Eyecontact review
    2014
  4. BEYOND ILLUSTRATION
    John Hurrell, Eyecontact review
    2012
  5. TELL ME SWEET LITTLE LIES
    Virginia Were, Art News
    2010
  6. SAM MITCHELL
    Warwick Brown, Seen This Century, Godwit
    2009
  7. SAM MITCHELL
    Tessa King, No Magazine
    2007

News.

  1. Sam Mitchell & Gavin Hurley | Beards, Boys, Platters, Shattered Dreams | Sarjeant Gallery
  2. Sam Mitchell | Traits | Corbans Estate Arts Centre
  3. Henrietta Harris, Gavin Hurley & Sam Mitchell | Rumours | Franklin Arts Centre
  4. Female representation in New Zealand Galleries
  5. Auckland Art Fair 2016 | Booth B1
  6. Public Programmes | Sam Mitchell Artist Talk
  7. Artweek Auckland
  8. SAM MITCHELL | Tylee Cottage Residency, Whanganui
  9. Spring Artist Talks: Matt Ellwood & Sam Mitchell
  10. SAM MITCHELL | THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING....THAT LETS THE LIGHT IN
  11. ART NEW ZEALAND Magazine texts
  12. Sam Mitchell | First is Last, Last is First | Corbans Estate Arts Centre
  13. Sam Mitchell | William Hodges Fellowship 2014
  14. Liyen Chong & Sam Mitchell | Gus Fisher Gallery