SMITH is excited to present Elsabé Milandri’s first solo show at the gallery, ‘Wind shifts at eight’, an extensive and varied collection from the artist combining paintings, drawings and silkscreen monotypes.
Elsabé Milandri, Timbre Mapping, 2017. Acrylic on Italian cotton canvas, 120 x 90cm. Courtesy of artist & SMITH.
Milandri’s painterly acrylic and ink drawings are known for their gestural style evoking mood and movement. The birth of her son eight years ago brought about a period of what she calls “ironic productivity”, during which she has exhibited widely. Most recently, she has taken part in two group shows at SMITH, ‘Current’ and ‘Two’.
Wind shifts at eight sees Milandri delve further into the unknown, seeking to bypass her inhibitions and explore intuition, uncertainty and the potential in adversity. Her works are explorations in instinctive mark making where Milandri invites immediacy and intensity to her process.
Elsabé Milandri, Shifts, 2017. Silkscreen Monotype 66 x 51cm. Courtesy of SMITH.
By moving past the tendency towards habit and preference – and avoiding overly serious plans or intention – Milandri places herself in the present moment to activate intuition, ow and uncertainty, ingredients she favours for their potential to describe sense.
“There’s a tension here between skill and immediacy. In my process the skill is the seeing and extracting the sense of something rather than the detailed, laboured craftsmanship,” she says.
Elsabé Milandri, Op ‘n skaal van 1 tot Pretoria, 2017. Acrylic on Drafting Film and Silkscreen Monotype, 66 x 51cm. Courtesy of SMITH.
All of the mentioned choices, among others, are selected with a view to create works that are more poetic than literal. Milandri’s process of understanding and refinement is thus inverted.
“Often, when I draw, I begin with the most accurate version of something and work from there to something that might technically resemble it less but into what I feel is far more reflective of the sense of what I’m drawing.”
This sense of adventure – or wilful abandon – is deepened with another foray into uncharted territory. Wind shifts at eight features her largest works to date, which she selected specifically for their potential to throw her off, creating a challenging and rewarding sense of vulnerability.
Her choice of materials bears this approach out yet further. Milandri uses acrylic paint for its quicker drying time and paints on Italian cotton. With a smoother, finer surface than conventional canvas, the fabric is preferable for swift, sensitive line work.
For subject matter Milandri draws chiefly from the natural world. Notably in this collection, she has been attracted to the staggering resourcefulness of succulents and their ability to thrive in adverse conditions. Milandri’s respect for science and discoveries in the natural world is deep, but her primary response to these knowledge systems leans towards intuition over intellect. The show’s title for example, alludes to her intuitive response to natural phenomena, referencing a subtle shift that precedes a change of weather.
“I find the idea that uncertainty is perhaps an increasingly valid consideration in a scientific context fascinating, for example in the way weather patterns are modeled in the context of climate change.”
Elsabé Milandri, Lesson, Thursday, 2017. Acrylic, conte and pencil on drafting lm and paper, 64 x 90cm. Courtesy of the artist & SMITH.