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PAINTINGS

PAINTINGS

Paintings that find the transcendent in nature's detail, Melissa Barber's work embodies the sublime, the sensual and the metaphysical.

CURRENT WORK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PEARL CONCUBINE

Oil on Canvas

91.5cm x 152cm

 

Zhen Fei, or the incorrectly named Pearl Concubine is a controversial figure in one of the last acts on the Imperial Chinese stage. It is a portrait of the real life Zhen Fei the favourite concubine of the Guangxu Emperor. Supposedly a beautiful young woman who possessed either an enlightened political wisdom or relentless narcissism and appetite for power - it depends on whose story one listens to, it is alleged that she was ordered to commit suicide by the Dowager Empress Cixi who is said to have been deeply annoyed by her behaviour.  Her death is unclear but a rumour exists that she was thrown down a well by the palace eunuchs on the orders of the Dowager Empress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CANDIDATE

Oil on Canvas

152cm x 91.5cm

 

 

Wanrong stands as a nervous candidate put forward by relatives as a wife to the last emperor of China, Pu Yi. It is a portrait of the real life Wanrong, a lonely figure in a stylised cloak emblazoned with good luck charms.  Her hair is decorated with opium poppies which foretell her later addiction in life and the cause of her early death.  Typical of this series, the face and hands are realistic giving rise to the humanness of the subjects, whereas the drapes and various props are stylised reflecting a timeless, almost surreal quality.

 

Current work concerns itself with the transition of a four thousand year old culture into the modern era. The paintings reflect a sense of timelessness, a sense of theatre, of role-play, curiosity and yet a deep sense of caution. Inspiration comes from antique photographs of Chinese culture from the 1800s and noticing how so many of those images could have been taken even centuries before the camera had even been invented. Chinese culture had persevered through intense infiltration from the rest of the world, unchanged, and my paintings explore the moment just before the modern era seeped into it via a series of intimate portraits of various protagonists of the era. A deeper inspiration comes from an unexplainable obsession with Chinese culture since early childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CICADA AND THE PLUM

Oil on Canvas

91.5cm x 152cm

 

 

 

 This is a painting depicting five women from the Imperial Court. Each is waiting for something as there is change on the horizon. One holds a plum and the other has a cicada that has just arisen from her hand. The cicada represents rebirth and immortality, mirroring its lifecycle; the plum symbolises courage and hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

Oil on Canvas

122cm x 122cm

 

Always usually portrayed by the West as a controversial figure, this is a portrait of the Dowager Empress who was a main role player in beginning of the European infiltration into China.  She is depicted with a galleon in one hand representing the ships that the West often arrived in and a large opium bud in the other that the West used to influence Chinese society. Both symbolise forces that ultimately changed Chinese society forever.

AVAILABLE WORK

LE CERCLE ROUGE

Acrylic on Canvas | 122cm x 122cm | Glisten Series | A$4,900

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The Earth is a Giant Macropod I

Acrylic on Canvas | 120cm s 120cm | Magic Hill Series | A$6,500

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The Beginning of the End

Oil on Canvas | 122cm x 122cm | $9,500

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Gold Landscape I

Oil on Canvas | 75cm x 152cm | Magic Hill Series | $3,900

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GLISTEN VIII

Acrylic on Canvas | 91.5cm x 91.5cm | Glisten Series | A$3,800

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Etude de Coquelicots I - DETAIL

Acrylic on Canvas | 20cm x 20cm | Poppies Series | A$450

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The Cicada and the Plum

Oil on Canvas | 91.5cm x 152cm | $12,500

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Jacques VIII - DETAIL

Oil on Canvas | 5 panels each 50cm x 50cm | Jacques Series | A$2,700

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VISIT THE STUDIO

All works can be viewed at the studio in Canowindra. Enjoy tea and cake on the verandah whilst discussing life and art.

 

Canowindra is known as a weekend destination.  For more information regarding visiting the studio and the Canowindra and Orange region please click below.

READ MORE

MBG ON INSTAGRAM

 

©Melissa Barber 2004 - 2017 | All Rights Reserved

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