“There Are Mirrors in Paradise” Essay for Australian Artist Minna Gilligan



I’m so pleased to share the essay that I wrote for up-and-coming artist, Australian-based Minna Gilligan solo exhibition Feel Flows. Minna contacted me after reading The Teen-Girl Tumblr Aesthetic* essay, and asked if I would write a piece for her show at Daine Singer Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. Check it out below! There are a few more great links and tidbits further down, so keep on readin’ readin’ readin’…

Minna Gilligan, "Castles in the Sky" (2013)

Minna Gilligan, “Castles in the Sky” (2013)

There Are Mirrors in Paradise

By Alicia Eler

Minna Gilligan’s paintings infuse the hall of mirrors located in our minds with moments supremely romantic and dreamy, steamy and tropical like The Beach Boys’ classic song “Good Vibrations.” It’s not that the Melbourne-based artist just channels the hippie movement of the 1960s and its break into the polyester-everything 1970s; rather, she unabashedly utilizes a color palette that evokes a world located outside of your everyday visions, dipping into your Internet-modified notions of reality. It is through cyberspace that her work first entered our mindscapes.

I’ve never seen Ms. Gilligan’s work in person, but her work is emblematic of the inherent connectivity of the Internet and the communication barriers that it erases. Her paintings and illustrations, which I have only seen online, speak to the sort of connectedness that, like the origins of the imagery she sources, was only achievable through psychedelic drugs made famous by counterculture bands, starting with those that performed at Woodstock. Nowadays we have the Internet, which allows for a global mindmeld through social media sites, where we can experience others’ thoughts, feelings, and the intimacies of their everyday in a mediated, second-hand space. No longer do we have to board the Magical Mystery Tour bus; we just hop on the Internet, and ride it till we get to the infinite “There.”

Minna Gilligan, "These Days" (2013)

Minna Gilligan, “These Days” (2013)

Then today—or was it yesterday?—I woke up and found myself lost in one of Minna’s paintings—a work I see as a sort of psychedelic geology, tracing vibrations that spin out from the Earth’s center and become larger and wider, manifesting themselves like rings on a hundred-year-old tree trunk. She layers these pulsing frequencies on top of erratic pinks and creamy oranges, interrupted by scribbles in red. Like her web presence, Gilligan’s paintings spontaneously invite the viewer in. Head falls first, feet follow. In another work, yellow tones cover a sun-bleached canvas of tropical leaves, interrupted only by a small black-and-white photo from the 1950s or ‘60s picturing kids hula-hooping.

Her work uses a pastiche of imagery collected from what she calls “old” books from the ‘60s and ‘70s, the decades she so loves. Her paintings pulse like brains in the music video for “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Minna is the girl with kaleidoscope eyes, her feet tip-tapping on a milky cloud as John Lennon strums by, unassuming. Would this constitute strange imagery, or just some type of postmodern trip down acid-induced Penny Lanes where hidden speakers echo back nonsensical words? It doesn’t matter because soon her head is in the clouds, and my head is in the clouds, and your head is in the clouds, and we’re gone.

Gilligan’s paintings stand on their own as Internet objects, but they would be just as comfortable lining the background of a teen-girl’s Tumblr page, or on the walls of a bricks-and-mortar art gallery—where they are currently hanging.The surreal dream is the Internet, and Minna Gilligan—the Internet presence, and the real woman who lives in Melbourne, Australia, who I may never meet IRL—is the curator.

Minna Gilligan, "It Was Cold and It Rained and So I Felt Like an Actor" (2013)

Minna Gilligan, “It Was Cold and It Rained and So I Felt Like an Actor” (2013)

Editor: Claire Potter

Read the essay on Minna’s blogspot here: http://www.minnagilligan.com/2013/06/i-keep-my-visions-to-myself.html

Download the beautifully formatted PDF version of my essay on Daine Singer Gallery’s website: http://www.dainesinger.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013_Minna-Gilligan_Alicia-Eler.pdf

And here is the artist at work!

Minna Gilligan, Traditional Selfie (2013)

Thanks, Minna <3