an obsessive drive to create images
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.
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: Desires Postponed (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2016), 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 resulting 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 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 has a new solo exhibition of work at Melanie Roger Gallery in May 2024.
For additional information and a complete CV please contact the gallery.
Warick Brown, Seen This Century: 100 Contemporary New Zealand Artists. A Collector’s Guide (Random House New Zealand: Auckland, 2009), p. 284.
SAM MITCHELL INTERVIEW
Creative Matters podcast
SAM MITCHELL ARTIST TALK
Sam Mitchell discusses her work in the exhibition "Meet"
THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING...
Southland Museum and Art Gallery catalogue
Emma Jameson, Eyecontact review
John Hurrell, Eyecontact review
TELL ME SWEET LITTLE LIES
Virginia Were, Art News
Warwick Brown, Seen This Century, Godwit
Tessa King, No Magazine
22nd Nov – 16th Dec 2023
9th Mar – 2nd Apr 2022
1st Sep – 25th Sep 2021
2nd Dec – 19th Dec 2020
25th Mar – 23rd May 2020
24th Jul – 17th Aug 2019
Fight Like a Girl
12th Sep – 6th Oct 2018
6th Dec – 22nd Dec 2017
19th Jul – 12th Aug 2017
24th Aug – 17th Sep 2016
Auckland Art Fair | Booth B1
25th May – 29th May 2016
24th Nov – 19th Dec 2015
23rd Sep – 17th Oct 2015
Summer Paper Round
19th Nov – 20th Dec 2014
One of Us Cannot Be Wrong
24th Sep – 18th Oct 2014
27th Nov – 20th Dec 2013
Matt Ellwood, Sam Mitchell & Erica van Zon
31st Jul – 24th Aug 2013
28th Nov – 22nd Dec 2012
31st Oct – 24th Nov 2012
- SAM MITCHELL | Strange Friends | The Dowse Art Museum
- Sam Mitchell | Creative Matters interview
- Studio Visit: Sam Mitchell
- Level 2&3 Viewing
- Artists in Isolation: Sam Mitchell
- Stockroom at Sapphire | Part of Artweek Auckland
- Sam Mitchell | Modern People | NZ Portrait Gallery
- Artweek Auckland | Sam Mitchell & Martin Poppelwell
- Sam Mitchell brooches
- Sam Mitchell | 25 Years of Winners | Wallace Trust Arts Centre
- Sam Mitchell & Gavin Hurley | Beards, Boys, Platters, Shattered Dreams | Sarjeant Gallery
- Sam Mitchell | Traits | Corbans Estate Arts Centre
- Henrietta Harris, Gavin Hurley & Sam Mitchell | Rumours | Franklin Arts Centre
- An Occasional Rant | Female representation in New Zealand Galleries
- Auckland Art Fair 2016 | Booth B1
- Public Programmes | Sam Mitchell Artist Talk
- Artweek Auckland
- SAM MITCHELL | Tylee Cottage Residency, Whanganui
- Spring Artist Talks: Matt Ellwood & Sam Mitchell
- SAM MITCHELL | THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING....THAT LETS THE LIGHT IN
- ART NEW ZEALAND Magazine texts
- Sam Mitchell | First is Last, Last is First | Corbans Estate Arts Centre
- Sam Mitchell | William Hodges Fellowship 2014
- Liyen Chong & Sam Mitchell | Gus Fisher Gallery