Artworks in Arcadja55
Some works of Milan MrkusichExtracted between 55 works in the catalog of Arcadja
Auction: Webb's -Apr 9, 2015 - AucklandLot number: 28
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Milan Mrkusich Painting (Meta Grey) 1974 acrylic on canvas signed Mrkusich, dated ’’’’74 and inscribed Painting (Meta Grey) 1974 in ink verso 1720mm x 1720mm ILLUSTRATED: Wright, Alan, Edward Hanfling, Mrkusich: the art of transformation, Auckland: Auckland Univeristy Press, plate 65. Milan Mrkusich’’s Meta Grey series, started in 1969, is a natural evolution from the artist’’s Corner Paintings. Both share a concern with the exploration of the relationship among hue, saturation and brightness, rather than space or form, with a perverse emphasis on the periphery of the canvas, rather than the centre. When Painting (Meta Grey) 1974 was painted, the artist had already been the subject of a major retrospective at Auckland City Art Gallery two years earlier and had become a well-established figure in New Zealand art, easily the equal of the American colour field painters in his absolute mastery of flatness to bring out the autonomy of colour and to reject, once and for all, the idea of a painting as simply an illusory window through which to look. This work is from the earlier part of the series in which fields of ambiguous, achromatic grey predominate. Later, Mrkusich would darken the grey to the extreme of black (grey is only a lighter shade of black anyway) and heighten the counterpointing colour elements. In this earlier work, however, the artist creates a kind of grisaille geometric abstract, which invites viewers to examine the optical and tonal values of a shade of grey as it metamorphoses across the surface of the canvas, contrasted to two lighter and two darker greys daintily dipped in the corners, like in a black-and-white photograph in an old-fashioned album. A clinically rational philosophical essay in surface, the colour grey in (or rather, on) the painting ceases to be merely a compositional element, the desaturation of a hue or the mixing of two complementary ones. Instead, it becomes both the subject and object en soi, like the ‘little patch of yellow wall’’ in Vermeer’’s View of Delft that consumes Bergotte’’s final moments in Proust. In addition to the avant-garde experimentalism of selecting grey to indulge with a monochrome field, there also seems to be a particular kind of painter’’s humour at work in giving a little love to such an unloved colour. In the West, grey has since the twentieth century been associated with boredom, depression, old age, ambiguity, sterility, conformity and other negative values. Indeed, as Eva Heller points out in her 2009 Psychologie de la Couleur—Effets et Symboliques, only a measly 1% polled in surveys conducted in Europe and North America gave grey as their favourite colour. The painting causes viewers to rethink their prejudices about this anti-colour in a bravura act rarely seen outside Josef Albers’’ Grey Instrumentation paintings from the same time and other historical figurative novelties by Corot, Whistler and Caspar David Friedrich. Friedrich is not mentioned randomly. In all abstract paintings, there is an echo of the Romantic in the artist’’s hankering after the Sublime. ‘Meta’’, after all, is Greek for ‘above’’ or ‘beyond’’, a code for transcendence and the rarefied superlunary realms to which abstraction aspires. In Mrkusich’’s case, that Sublime is an infinite depth captured in an absolute flatness.
Auction: Webb's -Aug 13, 2013 - AucklandLot number: 67
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98 / 133 Lot: Important Paintings and Contemporary Art 13 AUG 2013 6:30PM Lot 67 Milan Mrkusich Meta Grey No.1 acrylic on canvas signed Mrkusich and dated '69 in graphite verso; signed Mrkusich and inscribed Painting; Meta Grey No.1 in stencilled paint verso 715mm x 715mm $25,000 - $35,000 (Click image to see full size) Back This work brilliantly manifests the essence and modernist genius of New Zealand’’s master of abstraction, Milan Mrkusich. Mrkusich has herein synthesised the monochromatic grey of his canvas with abstract, geometric form, constructing a composition whose power lies in its timeless, spaceless resonance. The curvilinear motif of a squared circle was central to many of Mrkusich’’s paintings throughout the 1970s. Though commonly referred to as ‘corner paintings’’, these works do not derive their gravitas from the break in form at the corners of the composition, but rather by virtue of the fact that, in emulating a photographic corner mount, they frame, define and give focus to the viewer’’s exploration of Mrkusich’’s monochromatic expression. The present work, a strong and adroit manipulation of form and colour, also recalls his Bauhausian influence and architectural formation. RACHEL KLEINSMAN Lot 67 Milan Mrkusich Meta Grey No.1 acrylic on canvas signed Mrkusich and dated '69 in graphite verso; signed Mrkusich and inscribed Painting; Meta Grey No.1 in stencilled paint verso 715mm x 715mm $25,000 - $35,000
Auction: Webb's -Mar 27, 2013 - AucklandLot number: 42
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Lot 42 Milan Mrkusich Achromatic, Dark I acrylic on canvas signed Mrkusich, dated '77 and inscribed Achromatic, Dark I in brushpoint verso; label verso inscribed Show Bg. One Man Show 1980, view 5 21st April - 1st May 1760mm x 1430mm $55,000 - $75,000 (Click image to see full size) Back
Auction: Webb's -Sep 26, 2012 - AucklandLot number: 117
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Lot 117 Milan Mrkusich Four Elements In Combination (Crimson), From The Elements Series oil and graphite on board signed and dated '66; signed and dated 1966, and inscribed Four Elements in Combination (Crimson) in crayon verso; inscribed A.S.C.M. benefit auction in pencil verso; original Barry Lett Galleries Ltd. invoice, dated 31-5-68, affixed verso 285mm x 510mm $4,500 - $6,000 Note: From the Elements series. Provenance: From the collection of the late Peter and Sylvia Siddell.
Auction: Webb's -Dec 6, 2011 - AucklandLot number: 52
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Lot 52 Milan Mrkusich Untitled Dark acrylic on stretched canvas signed Mrkusich, dated 1985 and inscribed Untitled Dark in pencil verso upper edge 1600mm x 1600mm $40,000 - $60,000 The immaculate surface of this canvas and the refinement of the painted structure identify Untitled Dark as a mature work by Milan Mrkusich. Painted in the fourth decade of his career as an artist and seventeen years following the first of his colourfield Monochrome series, this large painting is part of the logical and constant development seen in Mrkusich’’s oeuvre. Dark paintings are notoriously difficult both for the artist and the viewer, with Mrkusich himself claiming, ‘it is very difficult to make black or darkness work’’. Yet in spite of the difficulties what becomes apparent in viewing Untitled Dark is that the simplicity of the unambiguous squared format is in perfect balance with the restricted colour: Mrkusich makes darkness work. The schema for this iconic dark painting is an uncomplicated geometric structure of colour and form, the enveloping darkness shadowing the formal relations of squareness. The soft qualities of colour are restricted to three shades of subtly varying but sumptuous darkness in three separate blocks: one large upper rectangle in a darkened mauve with two squares below, the left a dark earthy tone alongside a much more saturated and weightier tone of near black. Peter Leech, when discussing Mrkusich’’s dark paintings in Art New Zealand, said of them, “In the dark, of course, formal definition and outline blur. The eyes see only the vaguest relations of intensity and saturation of darkness.” This is the case in Untitled Dark , where the tones are all variations in the dark and consideration of them is only able to be in terms of that darkness, of their being more of a blueish darkness, a brownish or even a charcoal darkness. Colour relations have always been a focus and source of vigour in Mrkusich’’s painting and so it is in Untitled Dark , even with its restricted and darkened palette and mathematically restrained structure. There is always a perceptual to-ing and fro-ing of colours placed next to each other, and in this painting the heavily saturated lower right square lies perceptually in front of those around it, the large upper rectangle more distant. Each carefully built up colour is consistently worked without modulation – technically no mean task given the area of paint – yet the eyes perceive a draining of darkness alongside the saturated weight of the lower right square and to a lesser extent alongside the lower left square, as if there were a luminosity that escapes from the border between the tones. In spite of that the demarcation of the separate areas is not harsh, rather, it is a separation softened by the artist’’s hand, by his choice of colour. This is not hard-edged geometric abstraction, this is abstraction of the human kind, with the sensations and qualities of the varying shallow depths of the darkened structure both softening the mathematical structure and gently enlivening the painted surface. Given the refinement of Untitled Dark what we see in the opulence of that dark colour structure is the embodiment of technical accomplishment and the certitude of Mrkusich’’s painting process.