Melbourne-based artist Melinda Harper has carved out her own particular niche in abstract painting. Her large, hyperkinetic pictures assail the viewer with a brash frenzy. Clashing colours and jagged, hard-angled shapes, with crisply defined edges, playfully romp across the canvases. The viewer is swept up in the maelstrom of activity and ‘movement’, sometimes settling on this or that colour, or a particular shape, before being whirled away to other sections of the canvas, where the dazzling visual sweep begins over again. Defying analysis, Harper’s hot and cold colour combinations are at once sumptuous and brittle; perfect and imperfect; sometimes lush, sometimes prosaic; but always fascinating.
Despite this free-wheeling visual effect, these super-charged paintings do not feel chaotic or random: in fact, their structure is deeply ordered and controlled. Their visual ‘fragmentation’ is a built-in device by which the viewer is mesmerised and enthralled as she or he seeks to make sense of the information.
Harper’s work extends the oeuvre of Op-Art and other hard-edged abstraction, such as that exemplified by Bridget Riley, Julian Stanczak, Richard Anuszkiewicz and Leon Polk Smith and Larry Zox.
Harper has exhibited extensively both in Australia and internationally, including: Colour Sensation, The Works of Melinda Harper Retrospective 2016 at Heide Museum of Modern Art, ‘Primavera’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and ‘Good Vibrations; the legacy of Op Art in Australia’ at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, and ‘Australian Perspecta’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.